Natalie Cole

Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award

If you suggested that “it runs in the family,” you’d be close to the mark. For if there ever was a successful filial succession, it’s Natalie Cole and her Dad, the late great Nat King Cole. Such a kinship might well have become a kind of satellite relationship to the mother ship, as it were. But Natalie Cole, the daughter, the singing daughter of the late Nat, is far from anybody’s satellite.

One of five children of Nat King Cole and his beloved wife Maria, Natalie Cole grew up Hancock Park, in greater Los Angeles. The house was filled with music of the contemporaries of her father, like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, giving the child an appreciation for the music of these stars, not to mention Elvis Presley and The Beatles, among many others.

A singer since she was a tot, Ms. Cole made her professional debut at age 11 in a show produced by her father at LA’S famed Griffith Park landmark, The Greek Theater. She was a smash hit and it signaled the beginning of another great recording career in the Cole family. Her debut album, “Inseparable,” went gold and Natalie received her first two Grammy Awards.

More Grammys and albums came in quick succession. The 1976 album release, “Natalie,” won gold honors. In 1977 she released two albums, “Unpredictable” and “Thankful,” both achieving platinum status. Following another Grammy Award and three nominations in the early ‘80s, Ms. Cole took a break from singing and returned in 1987 with a top 15 smash single, “Jumpstart,” from the “Everlasting” album. The album also included “Pink Cadillac” for which she received another Grammy nomination, an NAACP Image Award and a Soul Train Award.

One of the truly major accomplishments of Ms. Cole’s career, already filled with successes, was the album, “Unforgettable With Love,” her first effort under a newly signed 1991 recording contract with Elektra Records. The song, “Unforgettable,” by Irving Gordon, was a smash hit for Nat King Cole in the early ‘50s, and for this new album, thanks to modern electronic technology, Ms. Cole performed a duet with her father on his original version. The album has sold more than 11 million copies to date, making a mighty contribution to Ms. Cole’s grand total of more than 30 million albums sold. The album also won seven Grammys, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year and additionally garnered Ms. Cole a second Soul Train Award and An American Music Award.

Two years later, in 1993, her next album, “Take a Look,” based on the touching and inspiring song by Clyde Otis, won her a Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Female. Also that year, Ms. Cole joined Frank Sinatra’s multi-platinum “Duets” album, singing with him, the George and Ira Gershwin song, “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.”

In 1994, Ms. Cole recorded “Holly and Ivy,” an album of jazz-imbued performances of a collection of the best-loved Christmas carols. This album also achieved gold status.

In 1996, Elektra Records released another fine album, “Stardust,” which also became a substantial hit and won two Grammys including Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for her second duet with her father, Nat King Cole, for “When I Fall in Love.”

Natalie Cole has always had a passion for acting. During the 1993 television season, she made her acting debut when she appeared in a critically lauded role in the season finale of NBC’s acclaimed series, “I’ll Fly Away.” In 1994, she starred in the title role of the USA Network movie, “Lily in Winter.” A year later, Ms. Cole joined a star-studded cast including Nathan Lane, Debra Winger, Roger Daltrey, Jackson Browne and Jewel when she played Glinda the Good Witch of the North, in the TNT Network’s telecast of “The Wizard of Oz,” at Lincoln Center. Ms. Cole was also one of the select number of major entertainers to appear on CBS’ hugely popular “Touched by An Angel” series.

In August of 1998, she appeared with Laurence Fishburne in the HBO made-for-TV movie, “Always Outnumbered” from a short story of the same title by Walter Mosley, and most recently starred in the telefilm “Freak City” which debuted on Showtime in April.

Currently, she owns 13 Grammy Awards, and it’s undoubtedly, safe to say, there’ll be more, many more to come, from this engaging winner of The 1999 Hitmaker Award.