Natalie Maria Cole, born on February 6, 1950, was a prolific performer and artist. After finishing her undergraduate degree, the singer began performing live in clubs, determined to make a name for herself in the music industry beyond being Nat King Cole’s daughter. From the release of her debut album, the singer began raking in accolades and awards. Cole made history with several of her Grammy wins as an African-American female musician. Despite a slight decline in the second decade of her musical career, she soon bounced back and continued releasing high-status award-winning music. Celebrate the iconic songstress’s birthday with us here today!
Natalie Maria Cole was an accomplished singer, songwriter, and actor best known for her work in the soul, pop, and R&B genres. She was born in Los Angeles, California, on February 6, 1950. Cole was the daughter of prolific jazz musician and singer Nat King Cole. Her mother, Maria Hawkins Ellington, was also a singer. Cole began singing and performing early in her childhood. After studying at Northfield School for Girls, she enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, from which she graduated with a degree in Child Psychology and a German minor.
In 1972, Cole started singing at small live music clubs with her band, Black Magic, soon after graduating. She released her first album, “Inseparable,” recorded and released under Capitol Records in 1975. The album was instantly popular and won her the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for the album’s song ‘This Will Be,’ which also reached #1 on the R&B charts. Cole’s third album, “Unpredictable,” and fourth album, “Thankful,” were both released in 1977 and achieved platinum status. She was the first female artist to have two platinum releases in the same year. Cole received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame two years later. She has also appeared on T.V. and has hosted many shows.
Cole’s career began to decline in the 1980s with the release of several relatively unpopular albums. However, in 1987, she signed with EMI-Manhattan Records and released “Everlasting,” her 11th studio album, which put her back on the top of the charts. It also reached platinum status. Two years later, she released “Unforgettable… With Love,” which featured a duet with her father. The album won seven Grammy Awards and was her best-seller. She released several gold-status albums and appeared on several T.V. shows throughout the 1990s. In 2008, she released another album featuring her father’s vocals and Frank Sinatra. She appeared on the Pennington Great Performers in April 2012 alongside the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. She died in a hospital in Los Angeles due to congestive heart failure. Cole married three times in her life.
Cole signs with Capitol Records and releases her first studio album, "Inseparable."
Cole's third studio album, "Unpredictable," is certified platinum by the RIAA.
Cole's fourth studio album, "Thankful," in the same year as her first platinum album, also reaches platinum status.
Cole's reputation as a legendary songstress is set in stone when she receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
After releasing several poorly-performing albums in the early- and mid-1980s, Cole returns to the top of the charts with "Everlasting."
Cole releases "Unforgettable… With Love," which features a duet with her father, Nat King Cole.
Why We Love Natalie Cole
She beat addiction
Cole published her autobiography, “Angel on My Shoulder,” in 2000, which details her lifelong struggle with heroin addiction. She began experimenting with drugs during her varsity days. By the mid-1980s, she was a full-blown addict. The singer checked herself into a rehab program for six months and stayed clean until death.
She was a human rights activist
Cole was passionate about working to advance human rights, particularly in the Middle East. She was an active supporter of the Afghan World Foundation.
She was dedicated to her faith
Cole had been raised Christian in the Episcopalian church. After marrying Marvin Yancy, an ordained Baptist minister, she became a devout Baptist.
5 Surprising Facts
She had two adopted siblings
Cole grew up with her sister, Carole "Cookie," and her brother, Nat "Kelly" Cole," both of whom were adopted.
She studied German
Cole minored in German and majored in child psychology for her undergraduate degree.
She was a Grammy Award pioneer
Cole was the first African-American to win a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category.
She had an honorary degree
The Berklee College of Music awarded Cole an honorary doctorate of music.
She had a feud with Aretha Franklin
Because the two songstresses' musical styles were so similar, they were often pitted against each other by critics and fans, resulting in a rivalry.
Natalie Cole FAQs
What caused Natalie Cole's death?
Cole died from congestive heart failure, diagnosed after receiving a kidney transplant due to a hepatitis C infection.
Was Natalie Cole adopted?
No, she was her parents’ biological daughter.
Who is Natalie Cole's son?
The late musician Robert Adam Yancy.
Natalie Cole’s birthday dates