Natalie Cole, the Grammy-winning daughter of Nat “King” Cole” who carried on her late father’s musical legacy and, through technology, shared a duet with him on “Unforgettable,” has died. She was 65.
Natalie died Thursday evening at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles due to compilations from ongoing health issues, her family said in a statement.
“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,” read the statement from her son Robert Yancy and sisters Timolin and Casey Cole.
Cole had battled drug problems and hepatitis that forced her to undergo a kidney transplant in May 2009. Cole’s older sister, Carol “Cookie” Cole, died the day she received the transplant. Their brother, Nat Kelly Cole, died in 1995.
Natalie Cole was inspired by her dad at an early age and auditioned to sing with him when she was just 11 years old. She was 15 when he died of lung cancer, in 1965.
She began as an R&B singer but later gravitated toward the smooth pop and jazz standards that her father loved.
Cole’s greatest success came with her 1991 album, “Unforgettable … With Love,” which paid tribute to her father with reworked versions of some of his best-known songs, including “That Sunday That Summer,” ”Too Young” and “Mona Lisa.”
Her voice was spliced with her dad’s in the title cut, offering a delicate duet a quarter-century after his death.
The album sold some 14 million copies and won six Grammys, including album of the year as well record and song of the year for the title track duet.
While making the album, Cole told The Associated Press in 1991, she had to “throw out every R&B lick that I had ever learned and every pop trick I had ever learned. With him, the music was in the background and the voice was in the front.”
“I didn’t shed really any real tears until the album was over,” Cole said. “Then I cried a whole lot. When we started the project it was a way of reconnecting with my dad. Then when we did the last song, I had to say goodbye again.”
She was also nominated for an Emmy award in 1992 for a televised performance of her father’s songs.
“That was really my thank you,” she told People magazine in 2006. “I owed that to him.”
Another father-daughter duet, “When I Fall in Love,” won a 1996 Grammy for best pop collaboration with vocals, and a follow-up album, “Still Unforgettable,” won for best traditional pop vocal album of 2008.