Patti LaBelle Calls Natalie Cole: ‘A Beautiful Spirit’

© Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage Patti LaBelle and Natalie Cole attend the 2007 Angel Ball presented by the G&P Foundation at the Marriott Marquis on October 29, 2007 in New York City.
© Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage
Patti LaBelle and Natalie Cole attend the 2007 Angel Ball presented by the G&P Foundation at the Marriott Marquis on October 29, 2007 in New York City.

When Natalie Cole scored her career-launching debut in 1975 with “This Will Be,” the No. 1 R&B and No. 6 pop hit, she found herself in good company. That same year, Patti LaBelle topped both the R&B and pop charts with Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade.” 

The two singers went on to become close friends for over 40 years, speaking on the phone often and Cole in attendance at many of LaBelle’s shows. Deeply saddened by Cole’s passing on Dec. 31 at the age of 65, LaBelle told Billboard via email, “She was a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist and an inspiration to so many. Natalie will be truly missed, but her light will shine forever.”

As the daughter of a legendary singer herself, R&B/soul pioneer Donny Hathaway, Lalah Hathaway recalls a call made 25 years ago by Cole’s former husband, producer Andre Fischer. Fischer and Hathaway were working on the latter’s self-titled 1990 debut album. “He took a break from our session to call ‘a singer to come and record the higher background parts,'” she remembers. “I was speechless — a superstar at my session! Natalie was fresh-faced and wearing a T-shirt and jeans, just like me. The ease and the poise, not to mention the fact that she was already a legend at that time. For someone like her to take a moment and help a new artist just blew me away.”

Hathaway also says she will never forget their talks about being the daughters of legends. “I have had very few conversations where people don’t ask, ‘Have you thought about making a record with your father the way Natalie Cole did?,'” adds the fellow Grammy Award winner. “She left such a beautiful blueprint. Natalie was the epitome of class and grace. A true daughter of soul.”

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Source: Billboard

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