Natalie Cole passed away Thursday at the age of 65.
The singing legend, known for such Grammy-winning hits as This Will Be and the classic duet Unforgettable which she performed with her father Nat King Cole, died from congestive heart failure in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
‘It is with heavy hearts that we bring to you all the news of our Mother and sister’s passing. Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived..with dignity, strength and honor,’ Cole’s family said in a statement.
‘Our beloved Mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever.’
TMZ reports that Cole had been forced to cancel a number of recent concert appearances due to health problems, including one scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.
She leaves behind a son, Robert Yancy, from her first marriage to producer Marvin Yancy, and twins sisters Timolin and Casey.
She suffered from a number of health problems over the past decade, including liver disease and Hepatitis C, for which she received chemotherapy in April 2008.
Cole wrote about learning she had Hepatitis C in her 2000 memoir Angel on My Shoulder, the result, she said, of a drug addiction in the 80s and sharing dirty needles.
It is being reported that complications from that disease also played a role in her death.
She also had a kidney transplant in 2009, and awoke from surgery to learn that her older sister Carol, who everyone called Cookie, had lost her battle with lung cancer.
Cole’s mother, Maria Hawkins Ellington, also passed away just three years ago.
Cole’s father was one of the most famous jazz singers and pianists in the world when she was born in 1950 in Los Angeles while her mother was also a noted singer, having performed with Duke Ellington.
Her father passed away in 1965 when she was just a teenager, but the two had a close bond in their short time together, with Cole performing on one of his holiday albums when she was just 6-yars-old.
Cole always had a love for music, but did not begin performing in public until after she graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1972 with a degree in child psychology.
She began to sing at clubs performing mostly R&B numbers, and one day caught the eye of Yancy and Chuck Jackson, who approached her about recording an album.
She was quickly signed to Capitol Records, the same label as her father, and released her first album in 1975, Inseparable.
The album’s lead single, This Will Be, quickly became a hit and earned Cole a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
That same year she also won the Best New Artist Grammy while her voice led many to compare her to another iconic singer – Aretha Franklin.
Cole would go on to win nine Grammy Awards over the course of her illustrious career.
She released eight albums in the first eight years of her career, working with Yancy on all of them, even after the two divorced in 1980.
Cole’s battle with drug addiction began soon after the pair divorced, and in 1983 she entered rehab to receive treatment.
That year also marked the release of her final album with Yancy, who tragically died at the age of 34 in 1985 after suffering a heart attack.
After some difficult years both personally and professionally, Cole rebounded with another hit album in 1987, Everlasting, which notably featured a cover of the Bruce Springsteen song Pink Cadillac.
She also remarried, tying the knot in 1989 with Andre Fischer, the drummer for the funk band Rufus.
Her biggest professional success however came in 1991 with the release of Unforgettable… with Love, an album that featured the singer covering standards previously performed by her father.
That album also featured the song Unforgettable, a interactive duet between Cole and her father.
Unforgettable… with Love went on to sell over 7million copies, and earned six Grammy Awards, including the big three: Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
Cole would release nine more albums over the course of her career for a total of 21, and went back to covering standards in 2008 with Still Unforgettable, for which she received her ninth and final Grammy.