After Natalie Cole's public funeral service on Monday morning of January 11, there was a private memorial at the Beverly Hills, Calif., restaurant Crustacean that evening. While the morning service which took place at West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles was more formal, the evening memorial was more celebratory and relaxing.
Just as there was a long list of superstars who spoke and performed at the earlier church service, the evening celebration of Cole's life was also a star studded affair. The song-filled celebration was organized and hosted by Cole's longtime business manager Howard Grossman. Foster, who co-produced Cole's multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning 1991 album Unforgettable ... With Love, emceed the upbeat evening.
Those who performed in the evening included the Supreme's Mary Wilson, Macy Gray, Johnny Gill, Freda Payne and Keith Washington. Actress and singer Dawnn Lewis performed Cole's "Inseparable" while O'Jays member Eddie Levert fulfilled the crowd's request to sing "Love Train." Songwriter Diane Waren, producer Quincy Jones, and singer Freda Payne were in attendence
Bobby Brown, the ex-husband of the late Whitney Houston, rendered a rousing version of Donny Hathaway ballad "You Were Meant for Me," inserting Cole's first name into the lyrics. Before he sang, Brown noted, "I've always wanted to perform this song for someone and now I am."
Also on hand were Cole's son Robert Yancy and her uncle, singer/pianist Freddy Cole, the latter of whom concluded the celebration with a touching performance of "It's Easy to Remember (But So Hard to Forget)."
Cole, the daughter of legendary singer Nat King Cole, died on New Year's Eve. She was 65. The R&B singer 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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