It’s no surprise that the beautiful and ebony-colored R&B diva Natalie Cole turned out to be such a great singer after being surrounded by singers in her early years in the form of her parents. Her father, Nat King Cole, was a great American singer, and her mother, Maria Hawking Ellington, was an American jazz singer. The singer’s trait was also evident in her extended family, as her paternal uncle, Freddie Coe, was also a singer and pianist. Read on to learn more…
Natalie Cole Biography
Natalie Maria Cole was born on February 6, 1950, at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles as the daughter of Nat King Cole and Maria Hawkins Ellington, the parents of an American singer. She grew up in the affluent Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, surrounded by great musicians and many singers of jazz, soul, and blues. This explains how she was able to start singing early in her musical career. At the age of six, she sang on her father’s Christmas album and actually started performing at the age of eleven.
Like any other child born to famous parents, Natalie had her ups and downs while growing up and her parents didn’t have enough time for her, especially her father, who traveled a lot due to his music career before he died of cancer at the age of only fifteen. Her father’s absence left her with deep emotional scars, and her relationship with her mother was no better because soon after her father’s death, her relationship with her mother became very tense.
Her family later moved to Massachusetts, where she attended the University of Massachusetts before transferring to the University of Southern California (USC). She later returned to the University of Massachusetts, where she majored in child psychology and minored in German, graduating in 1972.
Career and Life of Natalie Cole
Her musical career began as a child when she was featured on her father’s Christmas album, and she began performing at the age of 11. She started as an R&B singer and had so many hits like This Will Be, Inseparable, Our Love, and others. She later moved on to pop music and in 1987 released her album Everlasting and her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac.
The album Unforgettable…Love was her biggest success. It sold over thirty million copies worldwide and won her seven Grammy Awards. She also won Album of the Year and Record of the Year. The spectacular thing about this album is that the title “Unforgettable” was reproduced using her father’s voice for the duet effect. She did this as a tribute to her late father.
Her career did not end in music alone; she also moved on to acting and appeared in films such as the social drama “Lily in Winter” (1994), an autobiographical feature film “Livin’ for Love”: The Story of Natalie Cole (2000). She has rarely appeared in shows as I’ll Fly Away, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and others.
Personal Life – Spouse, Son
Like other celebrities, Natalie had her own share of unstable relationships, having been married three times. First, she was married to Marvin Jerome Yancy, a songwriter, producer, and gospel artist. Marvin began in the 1970s as a member of an independent R&B singing group before being ordained a Baptist minister. They divorced in 1980, and five years later Yancy died of a heart attack.
She later married Andre Fisher, a former drummer in the band Rufus and also a record producer, in 1989, but that ended in 1995. In 2001 she married her third husband, Bishop Kenneth Dupree, and this relationship lasted only three years before they were divorced in 2004.
Natalie Cole’s marriage to her first husband, Marvin Yancy, was blessed with a son, Robert Adam Yancy, born in October 1977. He was an accomplished drummer before he died of coronary heart disease on August 14, 2017, at the age of 39. This occurred twenty months after the death of his mother, Natalie Cole.
Natalie had so many struggles with drug addiction and heroin use. Her struggle with drugs began when she started performing in various nightclubs; the absence of her parents in her early life also contributed to her drug use.
During her studies, she was a drug addict and it was so bad that she once refused to evacuate a burning building. She was once arrested in Toronto, Canada, when she was found in possession of heroin in 1975. Her drug use endangered not only her life but also that of her relatives, especially her son Robert, who almost drowned in the pool of her house when she was on a drug frenzy. Later she went to rehab in 1983.
Death and Cause of Death
In 2008, Natalie announced that she had been diagnosed with hepatitis C, a liver disease that spreads when it comes into contact with infected blood. The disease was attributed to her previous use of medication. She explained that she had lived with the disease for twenty-five years and that anyone who tampered with drugs, especially needles, would most likely suffer the same fate.
During the treatment of the disease, she was also diagnosed with kidney failure and was on dialysis three times a week for nine months. In May 2009, she appealed to a kidney donor on the Larry King Show. December 31, 2015, was her last day on earth when she was pronounced dead at age 65 upon arrival at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
With all her involvement with drugs and other health problems, it will not be easy to pinpoint the exact cause of her death. Her family members stated that she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension after her kidney transplant in 2009. Maureen O’Connor, her publicist, also confirmed that she died of congestive heart failure.