It is no surprise that the beautiful and ebony R&B diva, Natalie Cole turned out to be such a great singer having been surrounded by singers in her early years in the form of her parents. Her father, Nat King Cole was a great American singer and her mother Maria Hawking Ellington was an American jazz singer. The singing trait could also be seen in her extended family as her paternal uncle, Freddie Coe, was also a singer and pianist. Read on to learn more…
Natalie Cole’s Biography
Natalie Maria Cole was born on February 6, 1950, at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, to American singer parents, Nat King Cole and Maria Hawkins Ellington. She grew up in the affluent Hancock Park district of Los Angeles surrounded by great musicians and exposed to many singers of jazz, soul, and blues. This explains how she was able to kick off early in her musical career. At the age of six, she sang on her father’s Christmas album and actually started performing at the age of eleven.
Just like every other child born by famous parents, Natalie had her ups and downs while growing up as a child with her parents not having enough time for her, especially her father who traveled very often as a result of his music career before he died of cancer when she was just fifteen years old. The absence of her father left her with deep emotional scars, and her relationship with her mother was not any better because soon after the death of her father her relationship with her mother got really strained.
Her family later relocated to Massachusetts where she attended the University of Massachusetts before transferring to the University of Southern California (USC). She would later go back to the University of Massachusetts where she majored in Child Psychology, minored in German and graduated in the year 1972.
Career and Life of Natalie Cole
Her musical career started off as a child as she featured on her father’s Christmas album and also started performing as early as age 11. Starting off as an R&B singer, she had so many hits like; This Will Be, Inseparable, Our Love and others. She later went into pop thereby releasing her album Everlasting in 1987 and her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac.
The album Unforgettable…With Love was her biggest success. It sold over thirty million copies worldwide and won her seven Grammy Awards. It also won Album of the Year and Record of the Year. The spectacular thing about this album is that the track “Unforgettable” was rendered in such a way that her father’s voice was used for the duet effect. She did that as a tribute to her late father.
Her career didn’t just end in music; she also went into acting and appeared in movies like the social drama Lily in Winter (1994), an autobiographical feature film Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000). She also appeared infrequently in shows such as I’ll Fly Away, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and others.
Personal Life – Spouse, Son
Just like other celebrities, Natalie had her own share of unstable relationships having been married three times. She was first married to Marvin Jerome Yancy, a songwriter, producer, and gospel artist. Marvin started off as a member of an independent an R&B vocal group in the 1970s before he was ordained a Baptist minister. They got a divorce in 1980 and five years later, Yancy died of a heart attack.
She would later get married in 1989 to Andre Fisher, a former drummer for the band Rufus and also a record producer, but it ended in 1995. In 2001, she got married to her third husband, Bishop Kenneth Dupree and this union lasted for only three years before they were divorced in 2004.
Natalie Cole’s marriage to her first husband, Marvin Yancy, was blessed with a son, Robert Adam Yancy, who was born in October 1977. He was an accomplished drummer before dying of coronary artery disease on August 14, 2017, at the age of 39. This happened twenty months after the death of his mother, Natalie Cole.
Natalie had so many battles with drug addiction and use of heroin. Her involvement with drugs began when she started performing at various night spots; the absence of her parents in her early life also contributed to her use of drugs.
She was into drugs while in college and it was so bad that she once refused to evacuate a burning building. She was once arrested in Toronto, Canada when she was found in possession of heroin in 1975. Her intake of drugs endangered not just her life but also that of her loved ones, especially her son, Robert who nearly drowned in the pool in their house while she was on a drug binge. She later checked into rehab in 1983.
Death and Cause of Death
In 2008, Natalie made an announcement that she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a liver disease that spreads when in contact with infected blood. The disease was attributed to her past involvement with drugs. She explained that she had lived with the disease for twenty- five years and anyone who is messing with drugs especially needles is very likely to suffer the same fate.
While undergoing treatment for the ailment, she was also diagnosed with kidney failure and she had to go through dialysis three times a week for nine months. In May 2009, she appealed for a kidney donor on the Larry King Show. December 31, 2015, was her final day on earth as she was declared dead at the age of 65 while on admission at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
With all her involvement with drugs and other health challenges, it will not be easy to point out exactly what was the cause of her death. Her family members stated that she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension after her kidney transplant in 2009. It was also confirmed by Maureen O’Connor, her publicist that she had died of congestive heart failure.