Black History Month in Focus: We Remember You Natalie Cole

This is part of The Shadow League’s yearly Black History Month In Focus series celebrating Black excellence in sports and culture.

Born to Nate King Cole and wife Maria on February 6, 1950, Natalie Cole would follow in the footsteps of her world-renowned father as an R&B, soul and pop music singer. Though her father was considered by many to be one of the greatest crooners in the history of American music, his daughter would carve out a very successful niche for herself that eventually extended beyond her fathers mammoth shadow.  

The singer, songwriter and pianist began gaining notoriety as an accomplished performer at a very early age when she performed backup vocals on her Dads Christmas album.  Cole earned her undergraduate degree in Child Psychology from the University of Massachusetts. 

It was very clear throughout her career that she would have been famous no matter who her parents were. Cole has been awarded 9 Grammy Awards since 1976, including awards for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Album of the Year and Best Traditional Vocal Pop Album throughout her career.

Natalie Cole – This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)

(C) 1975 WMG All copyright claims go to its rightful owner. This song is for entertainment purposes only. Please enjoy! Rightfully owned by: WMG

It was in a Chicago club where producers Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy saw Cole perform and were immediately taken by her sultry voice. Cole would work on several tracks with Jackson and Yancy in Los Angeles within the span of months, furnishing the compositions which came out in 1975 on Coles first album, Inseparable. Two tracks on the album, namely This Will Be and Inseparable, became instant hits, topping the billboard charts at number 1. Cole also won Grammy awards for both songs.

She released her second album, Natalie in 1976. Like the album preceding it, Natalie was also a top seller with songs like Sophisticated Lady and Mr. Melody.

Unpredictable (1977) was her first platinum selling album. She would follow up that album with Thankful the same year. Though the 7’0s would see Natalie soar to the height of popularity, the ’80s were tumultuous and filled with strife. Career failures, drug addiction and depression appeared to dog her every move.

Natalie Cole LIVE – Unforgettable

Uploaded by car2929 on 2012-11-19.

By the end of the decade, Natalie was welcomed back amid the pantheon of successful, marketable, relevant soul singers with albums like Everlasting (1987), and “UnforgettableWith Love” (1991), both including new pop style with lighter fare than some of her prior works.

After the aforementioned albums were released, Cole began taking to jazz standards more and more with her 1993 set Take a Look, which went gold. Stardust went platinum and featured another duet with her father on a modern version of “When I Fall in Love”, which helped Cole earn another Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

Cole drifted back to 80s-style music by 1999 with the release of “Snowfall” on the Sahara in June, and second holiday album “The Magic of Christmas” in October.

A year later, the singer collaborated on the production of her biopic, “Livin’ For Love: The Natalie Cole Story. She also released the compilation Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 to fulfill her contract with Elektra, then switched labels to Verve Records and released two albums. 2002’s jazzy “Ask a Woman Who Knows”, while 2006’s “Leavin'” again featured more of a pop/R&B sound. Her cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Daydreaming” became a minor hit on the R&B charts.   

Orange Colored Sky — Natalie Cole

Videoclip con la cancin Orange Colored Sky de Natalie Cole, con imgenes de cielos color naranja.

Natalie Cole is known to most as a stellar singer and troubled daughter to an icon. However, she was way more than that. She was an actress who appeared on television and in films regularly. Ill Fly Away, Touched By an Angel, and Law & Order: SVU, Real Housewives of New York City and RuPauls Drag Race were but some of the shows she appeared in.   

Fans of her music also know that Cole struggled with drug addiction throughout much of her early career; using crack cocaine and heroin. She entered rehab in 1983 and was clean throughout the rest of her career.

Cole cancelled several events in December 2015 due to illness and passed away the following month at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Though Cole was clean and sober at the time of her passing, her past intravenous drug use contributed to her demise.

Cole’s son, along with her sisters, offered the following comment. “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived … with dignity, strength and honor. Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain unforgettable in our hearts forever.”

She was 65 years old at the time of her passing.

Back to top