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Natalie Maria Cole (born February 6, 1950), better known as Natalie Cole is an American singer, songwriter and performer. The daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, Cole rode to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)", "Inseparable" and "Our Love". After a period of failing sales and performances due to a heavy drug addiction, Cole reemerged as a pop artist with the 1987 album, Everlasting, and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole numerous Grammy Awards.
Natalie Cole was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of crooner Nat King Cole and former Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Cole. Raised in the affluent Hancock Park district of Los Angeles; regarding her childhood, Cole has referred to her family as "the black Kennedys" and was exposed to many great singers of jazz, soul, and blues. At the age of six 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).
Her paternal uncle Freddy Cole is a singer and pianist with numerous albums and awards. Cole was 15 years old and attending an east coast boarding school, the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Massachusetts, when 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 briefly transferred to University of Southern California where she pledged the Epsilion Theta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Inc.]]. She later transferred back to the University of Massachusetts, where she majored in Child Psychology and minored in German graduating in 1972.
Career detour and resurgence
In 1994 she released her first holiday recording, Holly and Ivy, which was certified gold in 1996. Additional holiday recordings include A Celebration of Christmas (1996), recorded live in Vienna with Jose Carreras and Plácido Domingo; and Magic of Christmas (1999).
In 1995, she performed in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a musical performance of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), and issued on CD and video in 1996.
Her 1999 album Snowfall on the Sahara marked a return to the easy adult-contemporary soul that categorized her late-1980s style and included the hit "Say You Love Me". In 2002 the critically acclaimed number one jazz cd Ask a Woman Who Knows coverered songs made famous by Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, and Sarah Vaughan. For this recording she received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Artist.
In September 2006, she released Leavin', a cover album of tracks made popular by Shelby Lynne, Kate Bush, Sting, and Fiona Apple, and the hit remake of Aretha Franklin's "Daydreaming", for which she received a Grammy nomination.
Cole's latest album, Still Unforgettable was released September 9, 2008 including yet another virtual duet with her late father, a cover of his 1951 hit "Walkin' My Baby Back Home". Still Unforgettable won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 51st Grammy Awards.
Television and film
Cole has carved out a secondary career in acting. She has also appeared several times in live concerts or other music related programs, including the 1998 Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute with sidemen Richard Campbell, Jeffrey Worrell, Eddie Cole and Dave Joyce. In 1990, she (along with jazz vocalist Al Jarreau) sang the song "Mr. President" (written by Ray Reach, Mike Loveless and Joe Sterling) on HBO's Comic Relief special, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. 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. It had high viewer ratings and was successful. From that project, an album with the same name was released, and featured several medley and solo numbers.
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, losing to Bette Midler.
Cole has 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 a memorable guest appearance on the popular ABC show Grey's Anatomy as a terminally ill patient. Her character visited Seattle Grace Hospital to have a fork removed from her neck that her husband had stabbed her with during a mishap; the couple had been having sex in public.
Cole has also made several appearances in feature films, most recently in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely. She has 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 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.
On December 2, 2006, Cole performed for the first time in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, as part of the annual Cayman Jazz Fest.
On the February 5, 2007 episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Cole sang "I Say a Little Prayer" at a benefit dinner for Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson).
She can also be seen in the last scene of Nas' music video for "Can't Forget About You". The song uses a sample of her father's song "Unforgettable". Cole is sitting at a piano in a cabaret-style lounge mouthing her father's song with Nas standing beside her.
Natalie Cole also performed "Something's Gotta Give" on American Idol on April 29, 2009.
In September 2010, Cole 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 on 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.