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*Natalie Cole was born on this date in 1950. She was a Black singer, songwriter, and performer.
Natalie Maria Cole was born in Los Angeles, CA., the daughter of Nat King Cole and former Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Hawkins Ellington, and raised in the Hancock Park district of Los Angeles. At the age of 6, Natalie sang on her father's Christmas album and later began performing at age 11. Cole grew up with older adopted sister Carole "Cookie" (1944–2009) (her mother Maria's younger sister's daughter); adopted brother Nat "Kelly" Cole (1959–95), and younger twin sisters Timolin and Casey (born 1961).
She enrolled in Northfield School, an elite New England preparatory school before her father died of lung cancer in February 1965. Soon afterwards she began having a difficult relationship with her mother. She enrolled in the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She transferred briefly to University of Southern California where she pledged the Upsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She later transferred back to the University of Massachusetts, where she majored in Child Psychology and minored in German, graduating in 1972.
Following graduation, Cole began singing at small clubs with her band, Black Magic. Cole began recreational drug use while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She was arrested in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for possession of heroin in 1975. While performing, she was noted by a couple of producers in the Chicago area, Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, who then approached her to do records. Capitol Records, her father's label, heard the records and agreed to sign her. Cole, Yancy and Jackson went into studios in Los Angeles to polish the recordings they had shipped, resulting in the release of Cole's debut album, Inseparable. Cole also recorded "You". Released in 1975, the album became an instant success thanks to "This Will Be", which became a top ten hit and later winning Cole a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. A second single, "Inseparable", also became a hit. Both songs reached number-one on the R&B chart. Her next album was Natalie, released in 1976.
Cole released her first platinum record with her third release, Unpredictable, mainly thanks to the number-one R&B hit, "I've Got Love on My Mind". Later in 1977, Cole issued her fourth release and second platinum album, Thankful, which included another signature Cole hit, "Our Love". Cole was the first female artist to have two platinum albums in one year. To capitalize on her fame, Cole starred on her own TV special, which attracted such celebrities as Earth, Wind & Fire, and also appeared on the TV special, "Sinatra and Friends." In 1978, Cole released her first live album, Natalie Live! In early 1979, the singer was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That same year, she released two more albums, I Love You So and the Peabo Bryson duet album, We're the Best of Friends. Both albums reached gold status in the U.S. continuing her popularity.
Following the release of her eighth album, 1980's Don't Look Back, her career began to take a detour. In 1981, Cole's personal problems, including battles with drug addiction, began to take public notice, and her career suffered as a result. In 1983, following the release of her album I'm Ready, released she entered a rehab facility. She released Dangerous, which started a slow resurgence for Cole in terms of record sales and chart success. In 1987, came the 'album Everlasting, which returned her to the top of the charts. In 1989, she released her follow-up to Everlasting, Good to Be Back, which produced the number two hit "Miss You Like Crazy"; it also achieved international success, reaching the top ten in the United Kingdom. Cole released her best-selling album with 1991's Unforgettable... with Love, which saw her singing songs her father recorded. She produced vocal arrangements for the songs, with piano accompaniment by her uncle Ike Cole. Cole's label released an interactive duet between Cole and her father on the title song, "Unforgettable". Unforgettable...with Love eventually sold more than 7 million copies in the U.S. alone and won several Grammys, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for the top song.
Cole followed that success with another album of jazz standards, titled Take a Look, in 1993. The album eventually went gold while a holiday album, Holly & Ivy, also became gold. Another standards release, Stardust, went platinum and featured another duet with her father on a modern version of "When I Fall in Love", which helped Cole earn another Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Cole carved out a secondary career in acting. She also appeared several times in live concerts or other music related programs, including the 1988 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute. In 1990, she (along with jazz vocalist Al Jarreau) sang the song "Mr. President" on HBO's Comic Relief special. After Johnny Mathis appeared on a special of Cole's in 1980, the two kept in contact, and in 1992, he invited Cole to be a part of his television special titled "A Tribute To Nat Cole" for BBC-TV in England. In 1992, following the success of the Unforgettable: With Love album, PBS broadcast a special based on the album. Unforgettable, With Love: Natalie Cole Sings the Songs of Nat "King" Cole received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program; and Cole received a nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance.
Cole made a number of dramatic appearances on television, including guest appearances on I'll Fly Away, Touched by an Angel, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2006, she made an appearance on Grey's Anatomy as a terminally ill patient. Cole also made feature films appearances in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely. She appeared in several made-for-TV movies, most notably as the lead in Lily in Winter. Cole was featured on Macy Gray's album Big, singing "Finally Make Me Happy". In 2000, Cole released an autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder, which described her battle with drugs during much of her life.
Her autobiography was released in conjunction with a made-for-TV movie, Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story. In 2001, she starred as herself in Livin' for Love: the Natalie Cole Story, for which she received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television, Mini-Series of Dramatic Special. She also sang the national anthem with the Atlanta University Center Chorus at Super Bowl XXVIII. She can also be seen in the last scene of Nas' music video for "Can't Forget About You".
She announced in 2008 that she had been diagnosed with hepatitis C and blamed her infection on her past intravenous drug use. Four months after starting treatment she had kidney failure. Cole needed dialysis three times a week for nine months. After she appealed for a kidney on the Larry King show, she received a donor through the organ procurement agency in 2009. Cole also performed "Something's Gotta Give" on American Idol in 2009. In 2010, She performed with Andrea Bocelli in a concert at the Kodak Theatre, for his album My Christmas, in which she recorded a duet with him, and from December 10–13, 2009, she appeared with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in their annual Christmas concerts. Both were videotaped for presentation on PBS in December 2010. On 2011, Cole appeared on the reality television series, The Real Housewives of New York City. In 2012, Cole appeared as a guest judge on the fourth series of reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race. The bottom two competitors lip-synced to her song This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) to decide who would stay and who would be eliminated. On Father’s Day, 2013, she was in Tina Sinatra's Father’s Day Special on Sirius Radio. It also featured Deana Martin, Monica Mancini and Daisy Torme, all reminiscing about their famous fathers.
Cole was married three times. In 1976, she married Marvin Yancy, songwriter, producer and former member of the 1970s R&B group The Independents. She had a son, Robert Adam "Robbie" Yancy (born October 15, 1977); a musician who toured with her. Marvin was her producer, and an ordained Baptist minister who helped reintroduce her to religion. Under his influence, Cole changed from an Episcopalian to become a devout Baptist. Cole and Yancy got divorced in 1980. In 1989, Cole married record producer and former drummer for the band Rufus, Andre Fischer; they were divorced in 1995. In 2001, Cole married bishop Kenneth Dupree; they divorced in 2004.
On December 31, 2015, Natalie Cole died at the age of 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, due to congestive heart failure. The daughter of Nat King Cole sold over 30 million records worldwide.