Legendary singer Natalie Cole has died at 65. The daughter of Nat King Cole, who died when she was just 15, had a string of impressive hits in her music roster, but struggled with both drug use and her health over the years. In recent years, she struggled with hepatitis C and recovered from a kidney transplant in 2009. Most recently, according to Entertainment Weekly, the singer cancelled a string of tour dates in December. Cole also cancelled her Los Angeles New Years’ Eve performance over a month before she was slated to appear, citing health concerns.
Several celebrities took to social media to express their sorrow at the news that Natalie Cole died.
— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) January 1, 2016
Natalie Cole won nine Grammy Awards in her career, which spanned decades. She gained particular notice in the early 1990s, with her Nat King Cole tribute album Unforgettable…With Love. Her video where she sang “Unforgettable” with her father was considered groundbreaking for the time. ABC News reported that Cole also released albums in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2002, and 2006.
Natalie Cole may have died, but her life was definitely multi-faceted. In addition to winning a string of Grammy Awards, she was a multi-platinum recording artist, a sibling to two sisters, and mother to Robert Yancy, her son with Marvin Yancy. Cole admitted in her 2000 memoir that she and Marvin Yancy had been heavily using cocaine prior to their split in 1980, which led to her seeking treatment for her drug use in 1983.
Cole openly acknowledged that recovery from drug use was going to be something she had to work on daily. It was a statement with which many recovering addicts could likely agree.
“Some of us have very addictive personalities, and for some of us, that mechanism gets tripped up,” she said. “Mine certainly did. I’m not cured. You never are.”
The Recording Academy released a statement shortly after receiving news that Natalie Cole died.
“We’ve lost a wonderful, highly cherished artist and our heartfelt condolences go out to Natalie’s family, friends, her many collaborators, as well as to all who have been entertained by her exceptional talent,” the statement read.
In noting that Natalie Cole died, her legacy is certainly one that will continue to be reflected upon for some time to come. To be sure, her work ethic was legendary; after years of singing and acting in a string of television shows, including Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Grey’s Anatomy and Touched by an Angel, she was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which had remained dormant, but struck in 2008. The hepatitis C apparently was a result of the years of drug use she had gone through.
Cole told People at the time that she was not about to let her illness sidetrack her from continuing to achieve success.
“I’m committed to working. I’m a fighter, not a chump,” she said. “The timing is intense. The album is special to me, and here I am sick. But you know the saying: These are the best of times and the worst of times. So we’ll barrel through. If I have to, I’ll kick butt sitting down.”
In discussing her hepatitis C diagnosis, which doctors told her was the result of sharing needles during her days of using drugs, Cole said that she realized that the drug use was a result of having unresolved issues in her past, such as the death of her beloved father when she was only 15. Nat King Cole died at 45 of lung cancer, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website.
Natalie Cole having died leaves a considerable track record for other singers and actresses to follow. Few have achieved the incredible and enduring status that she has done, and, as her family said in a statement, “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived … with dignity, strength and honor. (She) will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever.”
[Feature Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]