Natalie Cole, the daughter of legendary pop and jazz crooner Nat King Cole, was such a talented singer in her own right that she could have changed her name and still been a huge star.
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She soared to stardom in 1975, winning a Grammy for best female R&B performance as well as best new artist for her hit single “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love).” That song made it to the top of Billboard’s R&B chart, as did five other singles in the 1970s and 1980s, including “Inseparable” and “Our Love.” Her biggest success came with the 1991 album Unforgettable … With Love, a collection of covers of her father’s standards that won six Grammys, including album of the year.
Here are some facts you might not know about Cole, who passed away in Los Angeles on Dec. 31 at age 65.
- In the late 1950s, Cole and her four siblings occasionally appeared on her father’s variety show on NBC.
- As a teenager, her first musical love was psychedelic rock.
- While at the University of Massachusetts, she became a singer by accident, when a friend who sang for a band got sick and asked Natalie to take her place.
- At the start of her career, she avoided singing songs her father made famous, with the exception of “Mona Lisa.”
- She published two memoirs, including 2010’s Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain, in which she candidly discussed her struggles with drug addiction.
- In 2009, she received a lifesaving kidney transplant while her beloved sister and best friend, Cookie, lay dying from lung cancer.
- She moonlighted as an actress and played guest roles on shows including Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
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