The Grammy winner, the daughter of the late jazz legend Nat King Cole and singer Maria Hawkins Cole, died of complications from an ongoing health condition at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Dec. 31, according to the Associated Press.
“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,” read a statement from her son Robert Yancy and sisters Timolin and Casey Cole, the AP reports.
The singer, whose hits include “This Will Be,” “Unforgettable” and “Inseparable,” had canceled several tour dates in late December, as well as a February concert.
Reverend Jesse Jackson took to Twitter on New Year’s Day to pay tribute to the late singer.
Arsenio Hall recalled opening for Cole when he was an up-and-coming comic.
Cole has suffered through a substantial amount of health problems. In her 2000 autobiography,Angel on My Shoulder, she recounted her lifelong battle with substance abuse. In 2009, sheunderwent a kidney transplant after being diagnosed with Hepatitis C in April 2008 and undergoing chemotherapy.
When she came out of the life-saving surgery, she learned that her sister Cookie, who had been battling lung cancer, had died.
Four months later, Cole mounted a comeback concert, where she told the crowd, “You know, things don’t always go the way we want it to. Things happen unexpectedly. You got to take the good with the bad.”
In 2012, Cole lost her mother, Maria, after her brief battle with cancer.
A nine-time Grammy winner, Cole was one of five children. Her debut album, 1975’s “Inseparable” – which included hits “This Will Be” – earned her Grammys for best female R&B vocal performance and best new artist. That same year, Cole was arrested in Toronto, Canada, for heroin possession, which she discussed in her autobiography.
Cole is survived by her son, Robert Adam Yancy.