Natalie Cole on music and politics


This music video from the USA is Nat & Natalie Cole “Unforgettable”.

From British daily The Guardian of today:

The unforgettable Ms Cole

Natalie Cole is the superstar’s daughter who became a Black Panther, a cocaine addict – and a huge success in her own right. As she releases a new album she talks to Lucy O’Brien about her father, feminism and the fight against drugs

When Natalie Cole released her album, Unforgettable … With Love, in 1991, many in the music industry suspected she had gone mad. This was the era of grunge and gangsta rap, and the idea of a pop singer releasing a collection of American jazz standards was unheard of. “My record company thought I was crazy,” she says. “They were like, ‘It’ll never sell.'” So they were in for another shock when the album rocketed towards sales of 14m copies. “It was a lot of fun watching people panic,” she laughs. “The radio programmers, the record labels, the stores. They were reporting, ‘People are buying this who haven’t bought a record in 20 years!'” …

Cole bristles as she reflects on the inequities of the music business, in which women’s private lives are constantly monitored, and “it’s not so much about their talent, it’s about their visual”. She thinks that there is a lot more pressure on female artists than when she started. “Women are required to look good 24 hours a day. Oh my God. Sheryl Crow‘s about the only one who gets away with wearing jeans. That takes a lot of time. You’d rather be spending time on your work, your craft, and you have to spend three or four hours in makeup for a show that might last 45 minutes! ”

She is more than happy to call herself a feminist. “I believe that a woman should be paid the same amount as a man if she does the same job. I think that we’re extraordinary creatures who can run a company and a house … ”

Growing up, the fame of Cole’s father inevitably led to insecurities about her own talent. Nat King Cole became a major mainstream black icon in the 40s and 50s after hits such as Mona Lisa and When I Fall In Love, and always refused to play segregated venues. In 1956 he became one of the first African-Americans to host a network TV show. Despite ratings success, NBC quickly dropped the programme because sponsors were nervous about backing a black artist – Cole famously quipped that, “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.”

Natalie Cole was just 15 when her father died of lung cancer in 1965, and his death had a profound effect. …

Cole grew up in a wealthy white enclave of Los Angeles, and, attending the University of Massachusetts in the late 1960s, she reacted against her upbringing by growing an afro and joining the Black Panthers. She was also at the forefront of the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. “My mother goes to me, ‘I didn’t send you to school to do that,'” says Cole. “But you don’t sit at the side and discourse – you get in there! I was part of a generation of people who tried to make a difference, and I’m proud of that. I was raised in a very protected environment and didn’t have a lot of black friends as a child. When I went to college I realised I was a black person too. It was a great eye-opener for me, which is why I got involved.”

How does she feel now about the prospect of a black president? “I would love to see Obama in the White House,” she says. “My country is in such disrepair, morally and financially, that we need his ideals and integrity. The fact that he’s black makes me proud, but even if he wasn’t, I’d still want him to be president.”

Cole may have inherited her father’s idealism, but as a performer in the early 70s she was keen to forge a distinct musical identity, and flung herself headlong into funk and R&B. In 1975 she had her first No 1 single with This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) and won a Grammy award for her debut album, Inseparable.

1 thought on “Natalie Cole on music and politics

  1. Pingback: British singer Maddy Carty interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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