Nashville remembers the unforgettable Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole

Singing legend Natalie Cole passed away on New Years Eve at age 65. Her last husband was a Nashvillian, and she was a resident of the city during their marriage. She last performed here for Mother’s Day at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center with the Nashville Symphony in 2015.

“We honor and respect the life and legacy of our beloved Soror, the ‘unforgettable’ Natalie Cole” Sharon Hurt, President of the Nashville Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. told the PRIDE. “We mourn right along with the rest of the world. She was once a resident of Music City and we were blessed to have her share that time with us in Nashville.”

Stephanie Natalie Maria Cole was born February 6, 1950 to the legendary Nat “King” Cole and Maria, a vocalist with Duke Ellington. Performing by age 11, her father died of lung cancer a week after Natalie’s 15th birthday. Natalie attended the University of Massachusetts, transferred to the University of Southern California, pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority there, and returned to U. Mass., graduating in 1972.

Cole married bishop Kenneth Dupree in October 2001 at the nondenominational Victory Church in Nashville where Dupree was senior pastor. According to published reports, Bishop Andrew Turner and Dr. Wanda A. Turner officiated the ceremony, Cole’s son Robbie walked her down the aisle, Dupree’s son Jeremy H. Dupree was ring bearer, and Mark Kibble of Take Six sang The Lord’s Prayer. The couple ended their marriage in 2004 after Cole filed for divorce. Cole was not quick to comment on the split and cited irreconcilable differences in the divorce papers.

Her 1975 debut album “Inseparable” included “This Will Be,” #6 on the pop charts and Grammy winner for “best R&B female” vocals and “best newcomer.” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Mr. Melody,” “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” “Our Love,” “Stand By,” “What You Won’t Do for Love,” and “Hold On” and “Nothing But a Fool” brought more platinum and gold albums.

Cole married Marvin Yancy in 1976, and the couple had a son named Robert Adam “Robbie” Yancy, born October 15, 1977; they divorced in 1980. In 1989, Cole married Rufus Andre, record producer, drummer, and namesake of the band Rufus; they divorced in 1995.

In 1991 she recorded “Unforgettable…with Love,” paying homage to her late father. She re-arranged and re-recorded some of his greatest songs in the same studio that he recorded (Capitol Studios), used some of the same musicians and even recreated one of his signature songs, “Unforgettable,” with a technological effect that appeared as if they were dueting together. The CD sold over 30 million copies, won six 1992 Grammy Awards of her lifetime total of nine Grammys. She played herself in Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story (2000), and wrote two autobiographies, “Angel on My Shoulder: An Autobiography” with Digby Diehl in 2000, and “Love Brought Me Back: A Journey of Loss and Gain” with David Ritz in 2010.