Though she was the daughter of a King (Nat King Cole to be exact), Natalie Cole didn’t let her father’s legacy overshadow or impede the creation of her own. A major player across R&B, soul, and jazz throughout her 6 decade career in music, she will be greatly missed and her legacy shall live on. Forging a path distant from music and the spotlight, she received her BA in child psychology in 1972. After performing a bit during her senior year of college, she caught the singing bug, and from there, secured a record deal.
At first, she tried to keep herself independent from her father’s legacy, moving in the R&B direction at “the house at Nat built,” Capitol Records. She released her debut album Inseparable in 1975 and won her first Grammy in 1976 for “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” [which many people of my generation best know from ‘The Parent Trap’ remake in the 90’s], dethroning Aretha Franklin’s 7-year winning streak in the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female category.
She continued to see success throughout the 70’s, but saw struggles in the early 80’s as drug abuse consumed her life. She recovered and bounced back in the mid-80’s, most notably with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac.” Her crowning achievement came in 1990, when she did exactly what she tried to avoid for years and intertwined her father’s musical legacy with her own.
The idea was presented to her: release an album covering her father’s songs and incorporating some new technology which would allow them to duet. Unforgettable… With Love went on to win 6 Grammy Awards including Album, Song, Record, and Producer of The Year, and also found success at radio and on the Billboard Charts.
Throughout the 90’s she continued to prosper in pop, R&B, and even forayed into jazz. She gave a standout performance at a big blues show, Lightning In A Bottle in 2002 (see video below), and followed up her 1991 hit with Still Unforgettable in 2008. Her final album, Natalie Cole En Español was released in 2013.
She will be greatly missed and remembered as a influential and versatile voice in music.
Take a look below at some memorable moments from her career.