By Shelia Poole and Jennifer Brett
Among the many mourning late jazz singer Natalie Cole – who performed in Atlanta in June – is her Atlanta uncle Freddy Cole, brother of the late Nat King Cole. Natalie Cole, 65, died Thursday evening at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to complications from ongoing health issues, her family said in a statement.
A year ago, Freddy Cole spoke warmly about his brother and his own musical career.
“My brother was a wonderful man,” he said then. “He loved the music. He loved people and he would encourage anybody.”
Reached Friday morning at his Atlanta home, Freddy Cole was too distraught to discuss Natalie Cole’s passing. He is still mourning the loss of his wife Margaret, who died earlier this year.
Natalie Cole was inspired by her dad at an early age and auditioned to sing with him when she was just 11 years old, the Associated Press wrote in her news obituary. 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 greatest success, the AP’s news obit noted, came with her 1991 album, “Unforgettable … With Love,” which paid tribute to her father with reworked versions of some of his best-known songs, including “That Sunday That Summer,” ”Too Young” and “Mona Lisa.”
Freddy Cole has lived in Atlanta since 1971, when he moved his small family from the hustle of New York City to a quieter place where his then young son could run, jump and play in a yard. His son, Lionel, today is a musician as well. When he spoke to the AJC’s Shelia Poole in 2014, his wife of more than 50 years, Margaret, was battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, Their daughter, Crystal, lives in the metro area.