Natalie Cole, nine-time Grammy-winning R&B singer and daughter of legendary crooner Nat King Cole, passed away Thursday night, Cole’s publicist confirmed to The Associated Press. She was 65. No cause of death was provided.
“It is with heavy hearts that we bring to you all the news of our Mother and sister’s passing,” Cole’s rep said in a statement to TMZ, who add the singer passed away from congestive heart failure. “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.”
The “This Will Be” singer had been dealing with health issues in recent months: In October, Cole canceled her November and December tours after undergoing “a medical procedure which precipitated a lengthy hospital stay,” she said in a statement. Cole’s February 2016 tour dates were also canceled after the singer became ill with an unspecified ailment. Cole also suffered from Hepatitis C and required a 2009 kidney transplant.
The daughter of “Unforgettable” singer Cole and Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Hawkins, Cole released her debut album Inseparable in 1975, with the LP’s title track and “This Will Be (An Everlating Love)” becoming Number One singles on the R&B charts. The platinum-selling album helped Cole win both Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1976 Grammys.
A string of hits singles – “Our Love,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “I’ve Got Love on My Mind” – soon followed through the latter half of the Seventies. However, by the early Eighties, Cole’s ascent stalled as substance abuse problems took hold of her career. However, after nearly eight years without a hit single – and a long stint in rehab – Cole reemerged in 1987 with her album Everlasting, which contained her well-received cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac.”
Cole’s comeback was completed with the arrival of 1991’s Unforgettable… With Love, her multi-platinum album that featured her versions of standards previously performed by Nat King Cole, who passed away in 1965; the album’s closing track and lead single was a duet between father and daughter using the crooner’s prerecorded vocals. Unforgettable… With Love won the 1991 Album of the Year Grammy while the “Unforgettable” duet earned Record of the Year and Best Traditional Pop Performance. In 1994, Cole performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta.
2008’s Still Unforgettable, the 1991 LP’s sequel, scored Cole her ninth and final Grammy, this time in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category. In addition to her singing career, Cole made numerous television and film acting appearances, including portraying herself in the made-for-TV biopic Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story.
“Natalie Cole, sister beloved & of substance and sound. May her soul rest in peace. #Inseparable,” the Reverend Jesse Jackson tweeted following news of Cole’s passing.