EXCLUSIVE: 'I love you all.' Last words of singing legend Natalie Cole - daughter of Nat King Cole - to her twin sisters before she died from congestive heart failure on New Year's Eve aged 65
- Natalie Cole passed away Thursday at the age of 65 as a result of congestive heart failure with her son Robert by her side
- The singer is best known for her Grammy-winning hits This Will Be and the duet Unforgettable, which she sang with her father Nat King Cole
- 'It’s heartbreaking, she’s fought a very long battle and she’s at peace now,' her sister Casey Cole told DailyMail.com
- Casey and her twin Timolin spent Christmas with their sister, who told them before they left 'I love you all'
- Cole won nine Grammy Awards over the course of her career and released 21 albums
- 'She was a lovely and generous person who will be greatly missed,' said friend Tony Bennett
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.
Casey Cole said she and twin sister Timolin, 54, had flown out to Los Angeles to be with their sibling over Christmas.
The family, including Cole’s son Robert Yancy, enjoyed several days together during which Cole thanked them for their support, saying, ‘I love you all’.
And Casey, who is now back home in Boca Raton, Florida, revealed her sister had son Robert by her side when she died in the hospital on New Year’s Eve.
‘It’s heartbreaking, she’s fought a very long battle and she’s at peace now,' Casey told DailyMail.com.
‘She passed last night and we were not with her as we are back in Florida, but she was in hospital with her son Robert, he was by her side.'
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Tragedy: Natalie Cole (above in December 1999) has passed away at the age of 65 as a result of congestive heart failure
Family: 'It’s heartbreaking, she’s fought a very long battle and she’s at peace now,' her sister Casey Cole told DailyMail.com (l to r: Timolin, Natalie and Casey Cole)
Legend: Cole (above in January 2015) had been forced to cancel a number of recent appearances due to health problems
Dad: Cole with her father, jazz legend Nat King Cole, in a 1955 photo session (above)
Casey, who plans to fly back to LA in the coming days, added: ‘My twin sister Timolin and I were with Natalie at Christmas time as a family. She told us that she loved us all.
‘We’re all heartbroken, I’ll miss my sister very much. We’re suffering but she’s not. She’s in heaven now and she’s ringing in the new year in ways we don’t know.’
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.
Icon: Cole appearing in the 2000 Kevin Kline film De-Lovely in which she sang Ev'ry Time You Say Goodbye
Remembering: 'Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived..with dignity, strength and honor,' her family said in a statement (above in November 2013 at the Latin Grammy Awards Ceremony)
Family: Cole and and her son Robert Yancy at the singer's 60th birthday party in 2010
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.
Everlasting love: Cole won nine Grammy Awards over the course of her career (above winning Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Still Unforgettable in 2009)
Old friends: Whitney Houston and Cole pose at the The Carousel of Hope Ball on October 25, 1996
Big night: Cole gets kisses from her husband coproducer Marvin Yaney (left) and coproducer Chuck Jackson (right) after Natalie at the 1979 American Music Awards (above)
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.
She divorced Fischer in 1995 and in 2001 married Kenneth Dupree, who she divorced three years later.
Cole also began to try her hand at acting in the late 90s, and over the next two decades made guest appearances on shows including Touched by an Angel, Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
She also starred in Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story, playing herself in the made-for-TV movie that aired on NBC in 2000 which was based on her memoir.
That same year she also appeared in the Kevin Kline film De-Lovely about the life of Cole Porter, performing the classic Ev'ry Time You Say Goodbye.
Friend: Tony Bennett paid tribute to the singer on Instagram Friday afternoon
Touching: American idol alum Jordin Sparks paid tribute by sharing her story of the first time she got to perform with the legend
Throwback: Lenny Kravitz shared a photo of Cole from her early years when she was just starting out in the music business
Tony Bennett was among those who paid tribute to Cole on Friday, with the singer writing; 'I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Natalie Cole, as I have cherished the long friendship I had with her, her father Nat, and the family over the years.
'Natalie was an exceptional jazz singer and it was an honor to have recorded and performed with her on several occasions. She was a lovely and generous person who will be greatly missed.'
Patti LaBelle wrote; 'Sending prayers and condolences to all the loved ones of my friend Natalie Cole! She will be truly missed but her light will shine forever!'
Many Twitter users also posted videos of Cole performing with Whitney Houston during their Soul Divas Tour in 2004, writing that the two are now together again in heaven.
'We will miss her like crazy,' wrote Rosie O'Donnell.
MC Hammer wrote; 'Prayers for Natalie Cole's family. She saw and touched the world through her journey of life and with her beautiful voice.'
Randy Jackson said on Twitter; 'R I P Natalie Cole one of the greatest sweetest most talented people I have ever met.thank u for all u gave us.'
American idol alum Jordin Sparks paid tribute by sharing her story of the first time she got to perform with the legend.
'I sang 'This Will Be' on the American Idol tour w/ @mdoolittle, my favorite part of that show. A few years later, I had the honor of actually singing it with her on stage,' wrote Sparks.
'I don't remember what I sounded like, I was too much in awe of her. But, I sure remember her standing next to me, voice so pure & clear as a bell. I will never ever forget that moment.
'She was always so kind & exuded so much grace. Rest in everlasting love. I'm sure the heavens are absolutely loving you and your dad rejoicing together. "Unforgettable in every way...." That you are, Natalie, that you are.'
And Lenny Kravitz, sharing a photo of Cole from her early years when she was just starting out in the music business, wrote; 'As the new year was ushered in, an angelic instrument moved on. Natalie Cole's voice was perfection. And what a lady... You will be missed my dear. Love.'
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