Childhood & Early Life
Natalie Cole was born on February 6, 1950 in Los Angeles, California, the USA to popular singer Nat King Cole and his wife Maria Hawkins Ellington, a former orchestra singer. She was a grandniece of the famous educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown and the niece of Freddy Cole who is a popular pianist and singer.
She grew up with her older adopted sister, Carole "Cookie," who was her mother’s younger sister's daughter; younger twin sisters, Casey and Timolin; and adopted brother Nat "Kelly" Cole.
At the age of six, Cole sang for her father's Christmas album and later started performing at the age of 11.
She attended Northfield School for Girls (now Northfield Mount Hermon School) before her father’s death in 1965.
Cole eventually attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She later studied at the University of Southern California for a brief period of time. She again transferred to the University of Massachusetts and graduated from there in 1972, majoring in child psychology.
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After graduation, Natalie Cole started singing at clubs with her band Black Magic. She then began performing R&B and rock numbers at various venues. It was during this time that she was approached by producers Marvin Yancy and Chuck Jackson who wanted to work with her.
Cole then began recording songs with Yancy, who later sent them to numerous record labels. Almost every label turned them down except Capitol Records, Cole’s father's label.
She ultimately signed with Capitol Records and released her debut studio album titled ‘Inseparable’ in 1975. Two of the album’s songs "This Will Be" and "Inseparable" became hits.
In 1976, the singer released her album ‘Natalie.’ This album, like ‘Inseparable,’ became a huge success because of its popular hits "Sophisticated Lady" and "Mr. Melody". She then came up with her album titled ‘Unpredictable’ that went platinum, thanks to its R&B hit track "I've Got Love on My Mind".
In 1977, Cole issued her second platinum album, ‘Thankful,’ that included the hit, "Our Love". Soon after, she started her own show on TV. In 1978, she released her first ever live album, ‘Natalie Live!’
n 1979, she released two albums, ‘I Love You So’ and ‘We're the Best of Friends’. Both these albums went gold in the USA, thus continuing her popularity.
The American singer then came up with her album ‘Don't Look Back’ in 1980. While the song "Someone That I Used To Love" became a hit, the album itself failed to impress much.
In the early 1980s, Natalie Cole’s career suffered a series of setbacks. Besides other personal issues, she was also battling a severe drug addiction problem. In 1983, after the release of the album ‘I'm Ready,’ Cole entered a rehab facility and stayed there for about six months.
Following her release from the rehab, she signed a deal with the Atco imprint Modern Records and released her album ‘Dangerous’ in 1985, thus beginning the process of rebuilding her career.
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In 1987, she signed with EMI-Manhattan Records, and with the help of the record executives, released the album ‘Everlasting.’ The album featured the hit singles "Jump Start", "I Live For Your Love", and "Pink Cadillac".
Cole released the follow-up to ‘Everlasting’ titled ‘Good to Be Back’ (1989) that produced two hits including "Miss You Like Crazy". The album also achieved moderate international success.
In 1991, she released the album ‘Unforgettable… with Love’ that topped several international charts. In 1992, she became a part of the television special "A Tribute To Nat Cole" for BBC-TV.
Natalie Cole released the albums ‘Take a Look’ (1993) and ‘Holly & Ivy’ (1994), both of which eventually went gold. Her other release, ‘Stardust,’ went platinum and helped her earn a Grammy.
She released her compilation ‘Greatest Hits, Vol. 1’ in 2000. She changed to Verve Records later and came up with her albums ‘Ask a Woman Who Knows’ (2002) and Leavin' (2006).
Cole made numerous guest appearances on television, including on series like ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,’ ‘I'll Fly Away,’ and ‘Touched by an Angel.’ She also acted in a few feature films and TV flicks, most notably as the lead in ‘Lily in Winter.’
In 2001, she starred as herself in the miniseries ‘Livin' for Love: the Natalie Cole Story’. On July 22, 2011, she appeared on the reality show ‘The Real Housewives of New York City’. The following year, Cole appeared as a guest judge on ‘RuPaul's Drag Race.’
Natalie Cole was married three times in her lifetime. Her first husband was songwriter cum producer Marvin Yancy. The duo had a son, Robert Adam, who died in 2017. Cole and Yancy divorced in 1980 after which she went on to marry record producer Andre Fischer. Her second marriage too ended in a divorce in 1995.
In 2001, she married bishop Kenneth Dupree. However, the two parted ways in 2004.
She disclosed in 2008 that she was suffering from hepatitis C. Her health deteriorated rapidly in the ensuing years. On December 31, 2015, she died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to congestive heart failure. She was aged 65.