Some sad news has spread among music lovers everywhere this New Years Day.
The lovely Natalie Cole, Grammy-winning singer and daughter of Nat “King” Cole, died Thursday night at the age of 65. Her death was confirmed by publicist Maureen O’ Connor.
Her family said in a statement that Cole died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering complications from ongoing health problems, Associated Press reports.
“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,” the statement from sisters Timolin and Casey Cole and her son Robert Yancy read.
Cole was born in 1950 and grew up among music legends. She had an incredibly accomplished jazz singer and musician in her home–her father, Nat King Cole. And her mother, Maria Hawkins Cole, was a singer for Duke Ellington.
Her childhood home was a regular spot for her parents’ colleagues. “I remember meeting Peggy Lee, Danny Thomas, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and so many others at parties,” she said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2014.
So naturally, she immersed herself in music early. At the age of 6, she sang with her father on his Christmas album, and she began performing at age 11.
Her father died when she was 15, a loss that “crushed” her, CNN reports. “Dad had been everything,” she told WSJ.
But enough about Nat. Cole embarked on her career after she finished college.
She had several hits throughout her singing career. In 1975, her huge hit “This Will Be,” one that can still be heard in several films today, from her album Inseperable dropped, showing just how talented she was. Cole was compared to greats like Aretha Franklin, and she won a Grammy.
Some of her other hits included “Someone That I Used to Love,” “I’ve Got Love on My Mind” and “Our Love.”
The success couldn’t last forever, though, and failing sales coupled with personal problems took her down a rough path. She got “hooked on cocaine,” according to CNN, in the ’70s, and it wasn’t until a rehab stint in 1983 that she got her life back on track.
“Somehow, at some point halfway through those 30 days, I went from not wanting to be there to being afraid to leave. I was starting to get it,” she said.
Cole made a comeback in the late 1980s with her album Unforgettable…With Love, which contained a duet with her father on his song “Unforgettable” thanks to technology.
For years, Cole refused to perform her father’s work in concert, but now an album of those recordings won six Grammy awards. She also won a Grammy for 2008’s Still Unforgettable.
In 2008, she started having kidney problems that stemmed from hepatitis C. She went through chemotherapy, but both of her kidneys failed and she was forced to put in a request for a kidney donation, which she received.
But that didn’t slow her down. She continued performing despite her health issues. “I have been on dialysis in Istanbul, Milan, Indonesia, Manila, London. It’s — it’s amazing,” Cole said in an interview with CNN in 2009.
It’s sad to lose such a talent…the first heartbreak of the year.