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Natalie Cole, Celebrated American Singer Dies at 65

Natalie Cole performing in 2004. Wikimedia Commons

American celebrated singer and songwriter Natalie Cole performing in 2004. via Wikimedia Commons

ART NEWS: Natalie Cole, American celebrated singer and performer dies in Los Angeles at 65.

BY KAZAD

Ken Lillig with singer Natalie Cole at the Governor’s Ball after the 1992 Emmy Awards. Photo: Alan Light. via Wikimedia

LOS ANGELES– Singer Natalie Cole, the daughter of the great star, Nat King Cole has died. She was 65 years old. According to her publicist Maureen O’ Connor, the cause of death was a congestive heart failure.

A celebrated American singer, song writer and recording artist, Natalie Cole was perhaps well-known for her 1991 multiple Grammy-winning album Unforgettable: With Love. The album which became the biggest hit of her music career sold more than 6 million in the United States. Cole’s duet with her late father’s voice on the title tune wowed audiences. The video accompanying Unforgettable, the title track, brought a greater credence to the relationship between a well-adored father and daughter.

Other hits on the album included This Will Be, Our Love and Bruce Springsteen cover of Pink Cadillac.

Celebrated for her beautiful voice and charming personality, Cole’s journey towards becoming a celebrated musician started by accident. While a pre-med student at the University of Massachusetts, a friend who was a singer with a local group fell ill the night before a major performance. To ensure that the show went on,  he asked Natalie Cole if she could stand in for him. The friend who had heard Cole sing at public parties in the past knew she was up to the task. She agreed. So good was Cole’s performance with the group that she ended up taking her friend’s place. Consequently, she set aside her medical career. Although Cole graduated with a degree in psychology from the same University, she never looked back on singing.

A brilliant musician in her own right, Natalie Cole abhorred linking of her successfully music career to that of her fathers. She wanted to be recognized for her own outstanding talent as a beautiful singer.

Although a successful singer, Cole’s life was marked by years of serious health issues. In May 2009,  the nine-time  Grammy winner underwent a kidney transplant at the Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The surgery came about a year after she was diagnosed with hepatitis C and kidney failure that resulted from the treatment.

Cole openly discussed the source of the Hepatitis C. The Hepatitis C is the result of her drug use in the 1970s and  80s. During that period,  she acknowledged was addicted to heroin for many years before unsuccessfully rehab in 1983. In Angel On My Shoulder, an autobiography published in 2000,  she noted that her addiction incapacitated her so severely that she escaped a fire in Los Vegas hotel by the by sheer luck.

Cole was out of the music circuit for many months. The interferon treatment caused a lot of side effects, including lack of appetite, diminished thirsts, dehydration and general exhaustion. In that condition, the recording process was extremely difficult.

A fighter, Cole did not let her illness stop her.  She continued to tour. To keep healthy, she received dialysis three times a week between performances. In 2013, her debut Spanish Language album En Espanol was nominated for a Latin Grammy award for album of the year.

Born on February 6, 1950, Natalie Cole came from a family of musicians. Her mother was a vocalist for the Duke of Ellington orchestra in the mid-1940s. Her father, Nat Cole was a celebrated musician. Cole was very close to her father. At the age of 6, she recorded a duet with him father: I am Good Will and You’re Christmas Spirit. By 11, Cole was already performing with her father on his television show. Sadly, he died of lung cancer when Natalie Cole was only 15 years old. Her father’s death, however, did not dissuade her from music. Although she clearly missed her father’s nurturing hands, she went on to establish herself as outstanding singer and performer.

A celebrated songstress, some of her hit tracks include Pretty Woman, Wild Woman Do, Unforgettable, Inseparable, Sophisticated Lady, I’ve Got Love on My Mind, This Will Be.

Natalie Cole was well-loved and celebrated. In March 2009, Cole appeared on the Larry King Live. There, she talked about her illness and the need for a new kidney. The response from fans was unbelievable. The show received dozens of emails from fans who offering her replacement kidney.  

That love has followed her into death. On social media, there has been an out pouring of love. Patti LaBelle wrote:  Sending prayers and condolences to all the loved ones of my friend #NatalieCole! She will be truly missed but her light will shine forever! The only consolation for many of her fans, Michael Kull notes twitter is  ‘She is singing with her papa again. Must sound beautiful.’

Natalie and Carole Cole. The sisters were both at NBC, Burbank for tapings. Carole (right) was taping Grady and Natalie was taping segments for The Tonight Show and The Midnight Special. via Wikimedia

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