Natalie Cole, the Grammy Award-winning singer whose hits included “Inseparable,” “This Will Be,” “Our Love,” “Pink Cadillac” and “Unforgettable,” a virtual duet with her father, Nat King Cole, that topped the Billboard charts in 1991, died in Los Angeles on Thursday. She was 65.
Maureen O’Connor, a spokeswoman for Ms. Cole, confirmed her death without giving a cause, according to The Associated Press. Ms. Cole had undergone a kidney transplant in 2009 and had suffered from other ailments recently, forcing the cancellation of a series of tour dates in November and December.
Ms. Cole — who was raised around jazz royalty in the company of her father and her mother, Maria Hawkins Cole, a singer who worked with Duke Ellington and Count Basie — came into her own as a singer in the 1970s by staking out her own territory in R&B. Her first album, “Inseparable,” in 1975, won two Grammys, and “Sophisticated Lady,” on a follow-up album the next year, won another.
Ms. Cole’s reputation declined for several years, partly because of struggles with drug addiction. But she came back, creating the biggest hit of her career by uniting, at least in the studio, with the legacy and voice of her father, singing along with him on a recording of his standard “Unforgettable” and winning several Grammys in 1991.
The song reached a level of success that Ms. Cole said stunned her, even with the combined wattage of her name and her father’s.
“The shock of it all is that this record is getting airplay,” Ms. Cole said in an interview at the time. “It’s absolutely shocking to see it between Van Halen and Skid Row on the charts, totally out of its element. It should be encouraging to record companies and my contemporaries.”
Watch Ms. Cole perform one of her biggest hits, her debut single from 1975, the #1 R&B hit and #6 Pop hit “This Will Be”, live on “Midnight Special” below:
article by Randy Kennedy via nytimes.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson