The new year started off with the unfortunate news that singer Natalie Cole had passed away at age 65. The singer, also the daughter of jazz icon Nat King Cole, accomplished much throughout her lengthy career, including winning nine Grammy awards and becoming a household name with her debut album, Inseparable. Natalie Cole was the first Black musician to win Best New Artist at the Grammy awards in 1976.
Her hit single “Unforgettable,” from 1991, is a now-legendary duet with her late father, and saw some air time at the 2016 Grammys. The clip was included in a minute-and-a-half long video tribute to other fallen stars. Viewers of the awards voiced their dissatisfaction with the tribute — including the late singer’s sisters, Timolin and Casey Cole, as well as her son, Robert Adam Yancy.
“Words cannot express the outrage and utter disappointment at the disrespectful tribute, or lack thereof, to a legendary artist such as our sister,” the pair said in a statement.
"Here is a woman who has been in the business for four decades, had 21 Grammy nominations and won nine Grammys," Cole's son told Entertainment Tonight on Monday night. "She deserves more than (to be a part of) a minute-and-a-half tribute. It was shameless the way they minimized her legacy. We will find solace in her legacy as well as her endless fans around the world."
Today, (February 17), the Grammys have officially responded to the Cole family and are standing behind their decision to honor the late singer in the manner that they did.
“Frankly, I think it was appropriate,” said Ken Ehrlich, the show’s producer. “At one point I was playing around with ‘Miss You Like Crazy,’ because I love that song. But when I looked again at the Grammy show we did where she won for ‘Unforgettable,’ and I saw the last 45 seconds of that number, where her father throws her a kiss, she throws him a kiss, and then she turns to the audience and throws everybody a kiss — that just was so touching and so emotional to me that that felt like it had to be the end of the whole ‘In Memoriam’ segment. I hadn’t looked at that clip in several years, but when I saw it again, I knew it was right.”
Ehrlich also claims that he ran the idea by the family prior to locking it in, saying that Timolin herself had approved the clip being played in memoriam and that the family was "happy with it."
David Wild, the platform’s co-writer, also chimed in supporting the way the tribute was handled, saying, “That clip really impacted him [Ehrlich], and he thought, he’s not gonna do better at Natalie than Natalie. When he found that clip and showed it to me, he was sort of in tears, because it meant so much to him.”
BET.com is your No. 1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.
(Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images)