Celebrating Natalie Cole's musical legacy, from "This Will Be" to "Unforgettable"

By Jodi Guglielmi
Updated January 01, 2016 04:35 PM
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Credit: Ron Tom/NBC/Getty

As the daughter of music legend Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole was never far from the shadow of his iconic legacy and presence. But, following a string of hits and Grammy Awards, she soon proved to be a musical powerhouse in her own right.

As the death of Cole at the age of 65 leaves many in shock, fans are remembering the songbird for her incredible talent on stage. And like her father, she leaves behind a rich body of work, proving that she truly is “Unforgettable.”

Here’s a look back at some of Cole’s greatest hits and biggest moments:

One of Cole’s biggest tunes came from a touching virtual duet of her singing alongside her father on his signature song, “Unforgettable.” Cole recalled in her 2000 autobiography, Angel on My Shoulder, that singing the duet with him onstage helped her find closure after this death and gain the confidence she needed as a performer.

“Back in the early 1980s in Las Vegas, I sang “Unforgettable” live with a tape of Dad’s voice backstage,” she wrote, noting that the audience became so emotional, she “backed away from doing it.” But she eventually changed her tune. “Now, I felt I had paid my dues, had my own hit songs. I was ready.”

But Cole’s big break in the music industry came with her 1975 hit single “This Will Be.” The song topped the charts and later earned her two Grammy awards.

Cole also found great success with her hit song “Pink Cadillac” from her 11th album, Everlasting and “Miss You Like Crazy” from her 12th album, Good to Be Back.

In 1999, she won the Lena Horne Award for Outstanding Career Achievements. Upon winning her award, Rachelle Ferrell and Deborah Cox created a tribute montage that nearly left the singer in tears.

Although Cole was a solo artist, she regularly joined fellow musicians on stage. In 1978, she partnered with Earth Wind & Fire for a special performance.

But one of her biggest duets came when she sang alongside her “baby sister” and fellow musical powerhouse, Whitney Houston, for a rendition of “Say a Little Prayer.”

Cole and Houston remained close until the untimely death of the “I Will Always Love You” singer in 2007 from accidental drowning. During an appearance on CNN, Cole spoke candidly about her thoughts on her friend’s death and the “demons chasing” Houston.

Cole was also open about her own addiction “demons” that she fought throughout her life, speaking about how thankful she was to be able to turn her life around after hitting rock bottom. While appearing on the Wendy Williams Show in 2010, she opened up about her past drug use and how far she had come in her sobriety.

Cole died Thursday in Los Angeles of complications from ongoing health issues.

“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,” said son Robert Yancy and sisters Timolin and Casey Cole in a statement.