Natalie Cole had many ties to Chicago, on and off the stage

SHARE Natalie Cole had many ties to Chicago, on and off the stage

Grammy Award-winning singer Natalie Cole, who died Thursday at the age of 65, was no stranger to Chicago audiences, having performed here at numerous concert venues over the years, most recentlya concert last February in Naperville.

In 2011, Ms. Cole headlined a free concert at Taste of Chicago, and 2013 she performed a double-bill with Ramsey Lewis at Ravinia.

“I was just thinking about her more than ever over the past year,” said Ravinia president and CEO Welz Kauffman. Cole performed at the Highland Park venue five times over the years, beginning in 1993. “When we presented Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga this past summer it was the closest thing I know to Natalie singing with her dad in those fantastic recordings. It was this ‘passing of the torch’ kind of experience [again]. Natalie was such a great pop star in her own right and gave such infectious performances on the stage. And much like Gaga, it’s something you have to be born with. … When she performed here with Ramsey Lewis, there was this sort of playful reverence she had for him on stage, reverence and respect for someone who had come before. … She was just simply marvelous.”

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​Ms. Cole’s first husband was Grammy-winning gospel artist/producer and Chicago minister Marvin Yancy, who headed the congregation at Fountain of Life Baptist Church on the city’s South Side from the late 1970s until his death in 1985. The couple were married in 1976 and had one son, Robert. They divorced in 1980​.

“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.

​​“I still love recording and still love the stage, but like my dad, I have the most fun when I am in front of that glorious orchestra or that kick-butt big band,”​ Ms. Cole said on her website in 2008.​

At the time of her death, Ms. Cole had four concerts on the east coast already scheduled for 2016.​

Contributing: AP

Follow @MiriamDiNunzio//

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