Natalie Cole, Grammy-winning singer and daughter of musical legend Nat King Cole, has passed away on December 31st, 2015 due to complications from ongoing health issues.
The singer, famous for her hit songs “This Will Be”, “Inseparable”, and “Our Love”, became a global hit in an era where women were seen as secondhand sex objects in the entertainment industry. She did not just battle being a minority in media, which is difficult enough, but a longtime addiction to drugs.
Among her many accomplishments is her involvement with the Afghan World Foundation cause, a non-profit organization providing support for the expansion of educational, economical and medical advancement in Afghanistan.
Throughout her career, Cole acquired nine Grammys, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Traditional Pop Performance. In 2010, the Society of Singers awarded her the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions towards music.
The singer released twenty three studio albums during her lifetime, in which seven ranked gold and four ranked platinum in the United States. Additionally, she released three live albums, in which one ranked gold in the United States. Her jazzy voice telling stories that only one would dare of hearing made people dream again, and put music back into the bloodstream of their everyday life. Her songs became part of the tapestry of humanity, bleeding into people’s life experiences, first kisses, fears, surprises and every other vivid emotion we are blessed to feel. She taught us to feel, and her music provided a vehicle to express such human feelings and raw emotion.
Cole also dappled into acting during her career. She voiced the singing voice of Sawyer in the animated feature Cats Don’t Dance, while being a cameo in shows such as The Real Housewives of Miami, The Real Housewives of New York City, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Cole showed a world so cold to the idea of having a minority in media that it was possible and wonderful, and silenced all the haters by her beautiful voice. Not only did she inspire others, but she empowered them by her brutal honesty of her struggles of drug addiction in her book titled Angel on My Shoulder. She showed everyone that the daughter of a legend could pave her own path, to carve her own destiny in music’s history. She took everything that was supposed to be used against her, and instead used it as fuel for greatness, innovation and growth.
Her absence is felt. In a statement released by musical legend Aretha Franklin, her sorrow is evident. “I had to hold back the tears,” she said. “I know how hard she fought. She was one of the greatest singers of our time.”
Prior to her death, Cole had to cancel many of her shows due to constant illness. She is survived by her son, Robert Yancy, and two sisters, Timolin and Casey Cole.
“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,” said the statement released by Robert, Timolin and Casey.