Natalie Cole's funeral on January 11 was a star-studded event. Cole died on New Year's Eve at the age of 65. Among those who spoke at the closed casket service include Lionel Richie, Chaka Khan, Smokey Robinson and songwriter David Foster. The service which lasted for several hours also saw performances by the great Stevie Wonder and Kurt Carr.
The service was attended by Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and songwriter Linda Thompson. Natalie's son Robbie Yancey and sisters Timolin and Casey also spoke at the funeral, which was presided over by the Rev. Melvin V. Wade. Smokey Robinson shared: "I feel so blessed to have called you my friend, and my buddy, and many times my confidante. "You are so real and down to earth. Now I have to say you're so real and up to heaven."
The services were being held at West Angeles Church of God in Christ where Cole was once a member. The Rev. Melvin V. Wade, pastor of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, presided over the closed-casket service. The singer's longtime music director and conductor, Gail Deadrick, coordinated the lineup for the services. The songs were selected from Cole's favorites, including gospel and jazz numbers, Deadrick said. Among those performing was R&B superstar and fellow friend of Cole's, Chaka Khan.
Cole, despite her ups and downs in her spiritual walk, was a Christian. She turned to God during her bout with drugs which later led to her kidney failure. In the 1990s, Cole was a member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, but she left to join Mt. Moriah, where her son attended.
Cole was buried alongside her parents and other family members at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.
In an interview with CBNmusic, Cole was a Christian who turned to God for help during her bouts with drugs, particularly heroin. Though she had a ups and downs in her Christian walk, she firmly believes that the Lord is good. "God surrounded me with people of faith, people of strong faith, people of power, spiritual power, and I saw little miracles happen in their lives. By it happening in their lives, I started believing it could happen to me. I'm a little like Thomas: I doubt. I know that the Lord is good, but I have been a doubter of His goodness for me."
"Oh please, that's inborn in all of us to call on God. That's the first thing we say: 'Oh God, help me.' Why not? I think that's a part of what He put in us, and what we do with the rest of it is a choice we make. I think it is something that everybody knows about God. When you have put all your faith in man and continue to be disappointed, don't you hope there is something out of there that is not of human element?"
Interestingly, Natalie Cole was born in the same hospital where she also died. Born to crooner Nat King Cole and former Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Hawkins Ellington, Cole was inspired by her dad at an early age and auditioned to sing with him when she was just 11 years old. She was 15 when he died of lung cancer, in 1965. She began as an R&B singer but later gravitated toward the smooth pop and jazz standards that her father loved.
Cole's first big hit was "This Will Be." The hopeful, upbeat love song entered the Billboard Hot 100 dated Aug. 30, 1975, and became her first top 10 on the chart, reaching No. 6 that November. A year later, Cole added her second top 10, the No. 5-peaking "I've Got Love on My Mind." The No. 10-peaking "Our Love" would follow in 1978.
In the 80s, Cole ruled the charts with her album Everlasting, which returned her to the top of the charts thanks to singles such as "Jump Start (My Heart)", the top ten ballad, "I Live For Your Love", and her dance-pop cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". That success helped Everlasting reach one million in sales and become Cole's first platinum album in ten years. In 1989, she released her follow-up to Everlasting, Good to Be Back, which produced the number two hit "Miss You Like Crazy"; it also achieved international success, reaching the top ten in the United Kingdom.
Cole's greatest success came with her 1991 album, "Unforgettable ... With Love," which paid tribute to her father with reworked versions of some of his best-known songs. The album sold some 14 million copies and won six Grammys, including album of the year as well record and song of the year for the title track duet.
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