Natalie Cole, daughter of the equally incredible Nat King Cole and Maria Hawkins, has died at the age of 65. Publicist Maureen O'Connor confirmed that Cole passed away on Thursday night from congestive heart failure, after years of struggling with numerous health issues. A statement from her son, Robert Yancy, and two sisters, Timolin and Casey Cole, was issued, which read:
Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived...with dignity, strength and honour. Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain unforgettable in our hearts forever.
Cole was born in 1950 to Nat King Cole, a talented and accomplished jazz singer famous for hits such as "Unforgettable", and Maria Hawkins, also a talented jazz singer who performed with Duke Ellington. Her career began at the young age of six, when she accompanied her father on a Christmas recording. Nat King Cole passed away from cancer when she was only 15, a loss that was difficult for the young singer to take. Cole said that her father "had been everything" to her, and struggled without him.
Her first hits came in 1975, with the songs "This Will Be", "I've Got Love On My Mind", and "Someone That I Used To Love". Cole's album released that same year, Inseparable, won her a Grammy award for best new artist.
Unfortunately, her career was sidelined by a cocaine addiction. She eventually wound up in rehab in the early 1980s, after her mother filed for conservatorship. Cole later said that rehab was one of the best things to happen to her, and embarked on a comeback throughout the 80s. Songs such as "Miss You Like Crazy", and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac" were chart toppers and fan favourites. Despite being dragged to rehab "kicking and screaming", Cole remained sober throughout the rest of her life.
Cole's rise during the 1980s culminated in a beautiful and haunting duet released in 1991. Through the magic of technology, she was able to "record" a duet with her father on one of his most famous songs, "Unforgettable". Cole said that recording that song "was a way of reconnecting with my dad". That album, Unforgettable...With Love, went on to win six Grammys, including song of the year.
Cole's health problems began in 2008, when she suffered kidney complications due to hepatitis C. She went through a round of chemotherapy, but both kidneys failed, and in 2009, she was in need of a transplant. Still, she continued performing throughout 2009 and eventually received a donor kidney.
Cole's career speaks to her power to overcome, both her grief over losing her father at a vulnerable age, and her own personal demons later on in life. She once told People she hoped to be an inspiration to others, saying:
I am a walking testimony that you can have scars. You can go through turbulent times and still have victory in your life.
Rev. Jessie Jackson was one of the first to send out his condolences upon hearing the news, tweeting:https://twitter.com/RevJJackson/status/682957405655711748
This was followed by responses from other celebrities:https://twitter.com/StarJonesEsq/status/682971116671905793 https://twitter.com/alroker/status/682979426536001536 https://twitter.com/AudraEqualityMc/status/682973211974328320 https://twitter.com/JackeeHarry/status/682969156354990080 https://twitter.com/KChenoweth/status/682974648976437248 https://twitter.com/CarnieWilson/status/682982414667264002
Watch her version of "Unforgettable" below, and join us in sending thoughts and sympathies to Cole's family, friends, and legions of fans.https://youtu.be/2uRtNMFfF-g