Welcome to the finale of the Natalie Cole story and last time we covered the revival in Natalie’s career and her re-emergence as a best-selling artist. The other parts to her story can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/william-price-king/natalie-cole/
The rest of the 90s continued to bring impressive recordings and chart success which included two further albums with the Elektra label; Snowfall on the Sahara and The Magic of Christmas released in 1999 recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Natalie Cole’s first album of the new millennium was the compilation Greatest Hits Vol. 1. The tracks included her hits from her twenty-five year career such as Pink Cadillac, Miss You Like Crazy and the duet with Nat King Cole, Unforgettable. Here is This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) from the album in a live performance from 1975 uploaded by
In 2001 Natalie starred as herself in Livin’ For Love: The Natalie Cole Story which was the NBC adaptation of her autobiography, Angel on my Shoulder. She received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for this deeply moving role in the story of her career and private struggles with addiction.
Buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Cole/e/B001HCZZE6
Following this Natalie switched recording labels to Verve Records and released two albums. Ask A Woman who Knows, in 2002, celebrated her jazz roots and included guest vocalist Diana Krall. The album received four Grammy nominations and achieved Silver status and No 1. in the jazz charts.. As with her autobiography the chosen tracks charted her experiences in life and love as well as milestones in her career with songs previously recorded by Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. She reunited with Tommy LiPuma for the album and this added extra magic to the recordings. Here is Natalie Cole and Diana Krall with Better than Anything – a tribute to shopping! Uploaded by TransatlanticMoments
In 2006 Verve released Natalie’s 20th album; Leavin’ featuring pop, rock and R&B standards originally recorded by the top artists in the genres including Daydreaming by Aretha Franklin, The Man with the Child in his Eyes by Kate Bush and If I Ever Lose my Faith in You by Sting. The album also included two original songs 5 Minutes Away written with Dallas Austin and Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love) with an Ernie Isley and Chris Jasper collaboration.
Seventeen years after Unforgettable… With Love, Natalie released Still Unforgettable which featured not only her father’s most memorable songs but also of other artists such as Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. Tracks included The Best Is Yet To Come, Somethings Gotta Give and Walking My Baby Back Home uploaded by
The album reached No 19 in the US chart and No 1 in the jazz chart and Natalie won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 51st Grammy Awards.
Natalie’s acting career had flourished in the early part of the decade with appearances on popular television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Touched by an Angel and Law in Order; Special Victims Unit.
2008 was also a pivotal year in Natalie’s personal life as she announced that she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, resulting from her years of intravenous drug abuse; something that she had been very open about publicly. She warned others that they might also be a ticking time bomb as the infection can lie dormant for many years.
Following a months of treatment for the disease, Natalie experienced kidney failure and was put on dialysis. She appeared on Larry King Live appealing for a kidney donor and in a twist of fate the show was being watched by a nurse who had treated Natalie in hospital. Tragically, two months later the nurse’s niece died unexpectedly of a stroke and being an organ donor and a match for Natalie, she was offered her kidney.
The donor and her family were from El Salvador and this inspired Natalie to become closer to the culture.
“I wouldn’t put it past the possibility that there is a spirit of Latino inside of me, because of this family,” says Natalie. “Ever since then, my passion for Spanish and everything Latin, all of a sudden became more intense. I couldn’t even figure it out myself.”
Following this life saving gift and her recovery, Natalie continued to tour and record but her health issues continued. She became a spokesperson for the University Kidney Research Organisation which worked to eradicating kidney disease and in 2010 she wrote her second book; Love Brought Me Back.
Whilst it was difficult to schedule tours with the challenge of her health issues, Natalie was able to appear in a number of feature films and made for television movies including the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely an the lead in Lily in Winter. She also guested on Macy Gray’s album Big singing Finally Make Me Happy, and in 2010 she performed with Andrea Bocelli in a concert at the Kodak Theatre for his album My Christmas. Here they are with The Christmas Song uploaded by azores46
In June 2013, Natalie released her first studio album in five years for Verve/Universal. Natalie Cole En Espanol was a compilation of Latin standards lavishly orchestrated by Rudy Perez, Billboard’s Latin Music Producer of the Decade. Nat King Cole had found the Latin American Songbook a wonderful and successful avenue to explore and as well as covering some of his classics, Natalie also included some of the best from the Songbook. She had never sung in Spanish before and she had this to say about the album.
This album is not so much a tribute to my father as it is to Latin music,” she says. “My whole thing was, if I’m going to do this as a first-timer, a non-Spanish-speaking American, I need to pay tribute to the music. I need to honor it because I’m not entitled to just sing it any kind of way. I have a duty to make it real, to pick authentic, beautiful, traditional Latin songs. And that’s what we went for.”
Rudy Perez initially brought in a language coach to ensure an authentic sound to the vocals but they soon discovered that Natalie was a natural and she needed no further assistance.
Rudy commented: “I found out she has an incredible ability to sing in Spanish phonetically, as you can hear on the album,” says Perez. “I couldn’t believe it, she was so good…She could roll her “r’s”, just unbelievable.”
From the original 120 songs that Rudy Perez and Natalie considered they decided on twelve tracks. Some were songs that her father had recorded such as Noche de Ronda, Latin standards such as Besame Mucho featuring Andrea Bocelli and Maria Grever’s Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado (What a Difference A Day Makes).
The album was nominated for the Latin Grammy Awards and here is the stunning father/daughter duet Acércate Mas.
Sadly following further health complications Natalie Cole died of congestive heart failure on New Year’s Eve 2015. Tributes poured in from around the world including these from President Obama and stars of the music industry.
“You don’t maintain a 40-plus-year career by accident,” said songwriter David Foster. “It’s just a short list of real singers who could prevail against the changing tide of public taste. Natalie transcended this simple genre classification whether it was R&B, sassy in her early hits, or her later work interpreting the jazz standards.”
“Natalie had one extra pressure that she was faced with every day of her life,” said singer Lionel Richie. “She was a little girl who wanted to be a superstar in a family that already had a superstar. That’s what make her prize of winning so unforgettable.”
Tony Bennett added on Instagram: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Natalie Cole, as I have cherished the long friendship I had with her, her father Nat, and the family over the years. Natalie was an exceptional jazz singer and it was an honor to have recorded and performed with her on several occasions. She was a lovely and generous person who will be greatly missed.”
As you will have realised from the last three posts, Natalie Cole left behind a legacy of music that not only celebrated the work of her father but her own extraordinary talent. Thankfully with the wonders of modern technology we can still listen and enjoy that talent for our own lifetimes which is a precious gift.
About William Price King
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.
William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
You can find the other artists in the previous series here:
Thank you to William for this series on Natalie Cole and her music. I am sure you have enjoyed as much as I have and we would be delighted to have your feedback and if you would be kind enough to share on your own networks.