Natalie Cole

She may have had a famous dad but she carved out her own successful career performing rhythm and blues and jazz-based pop music.

The daughter of legendary crooner Nat King Cole, earned a degree in child psychology from the University of Massachusetts in 1972. Throughout her childhood, she was exposed to many great blues, jazz and soul singers as her mother was the former Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria and her father soul legend Nat.

She first performed with her father at the age of six when she appeared on her father's Christmas album. Cole began performing in her own right at the age of 11. Her father Nat died from lung cancer when she was 15 years old and from this point her relationship with her mother became strained. Although uncertain about pursuing a career in entertainment, she accepted a summer job singing with a band and was soon performing regularly.

In 1974 she met Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, songwriters and record producers who became frequent collaborators and helped her sign with Capitol Records. A string of rhythm-and-blues albums followed, beginning with her debut album, 'Inseparable' (1975), which earned Cole two Grammy Awards, including one for best new artist.

Cole married Yancy in 1976 and they had son Robert in October 1977. He is now a musician who tours with his mother. Yancy, who was an ordained Baptist minister, helped convert Cole into a devout Baptist. The couple divorced in 1980 and Yancy died in 1985. The following year 'Natalie' was released, which went gold and received a Grammy for the hit single 'Sophisticated Lady'. Her success continued with 'Unpredictable' (1977) and 'Thankful' (1977), both of which went platinum.

In the early 1980s Cole's career stalled because of drug problems and a serious throat ailment. She eventually overcame her difficulties, and by the end of the decade she had begun singing more jazz-inspired pop. 

In 1989, Cole married record producer and former drummer for Rufus, Andre Fischer, but they divorced in 1995.

Her comeback was completed in 1991 with the release of 'Unforgettable with Love', a double album that featured her father's classics, including 'Smile,' 'The Very Thought of You,' and 'Mona Lisa.' It joined a canon of great works that reinterpreted the American song tradition.

 

 

Selling eight million copies in America, and winning numerous Grammys, this commercial and critical success was Cole's first album to reach number one. The title track was digitally engineered to simulate a father-and-daughter duet. Later albums include 'Take a Look' (1993), 'Snowfall on the Sahara' (1999), and 'Ask a Woman Who Knows' (2002).

In 2000 her autobiography, 'Angel on My Shoulder' (written with Digby Diehl), was published and it detailed her idyllic upbringing and descent into drug abuse. She says in the book that her ability to freebase cocaine was so well known in showbiz circles that it earned her a moniker, the 'Freebase Queen'.

In 2001, Cole wed bishop Kenneth Dupree but the pair went their separate ways in 2005. In 2008, she released 'Still Unforgettable' earning herself another two Grammys and repeating the duet trick with her father's 'Walkin' My Baby Back Home' which he first recorded in the early 50s.

Cole has had various health problems, some of which she admits are due to her previous drug abuse. But in 2009, a dying fan gave her the kidney she needed to continue and just a few months after the operation, Natalie Cole made a triumphant return to the Hollywood Bowl.

She also performed on 'American Idol' that year before appearing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square as part of their Christmas concerts between 10 and 13 December 2009.

Cole later performed with Andrea Botticelli in concert at the Kodak Theatre for his album 'My Christmas', for which they recorded a duet. Both performances were filmed and shown on PBS in December 2010.

In 2011, Cole made a cameo appearance in both 'Real Housewives of Miami' and 'Real Housewives of New York City'. Her latest album was the Spanish-language 'Natalie Cole en Español', which was released in 2013.

Natalie Cole died in January 2016.