Back in 1975 while watching American Bandstand, I was introduced to Natalie Cole and the song "This Will Be" from her Inseparable album.
Loved her instantly. I didn't care if she was the daughter of a famous singer. She had a voice and style of her own. And it didn't matter to me what my friends were listening to, I could like R&B while others were getting off on Queen.
Although the official reason for her death is "congestive heart failure", it appears that this is connected to her drug use which she had quit, however, it had done permanent damage and caused her to contact hepatitis C resulting in kidney failure which I suspect may have contributed to her heart condition.
Which brings me to the question. Why?
Why do these people who have so much, throw it away with drugs and alcohol. What is so horrible and awful about life that they have to play with something so dangerous? When so many people are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head while they battle loneliness, why do celebrities, who could have anything they desire, cause themselves so much grief and misery.
We've seen it over and over again. Elvis Presley, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and on and on and on. In Natalie's case she didn't die of a drug overdose. She had kicked it all together. But it caused her health problems for the rest of her life eventually resulting in an early death. Even her father suffered an early death due to his addiction to tobacco, but at least that was at a time when they didn't know any better. Natalie did.
In fact I heard Natalie tell of a time in her life when she didn't want anyone around her who wasn't doing drugs. At least she did go out and warn people about the dangers. She even did an inspiring performance on Touched by an Angel, about a woman who contacts AIDS through her drug use. That episode also starred the marvelous Maya Angelou and it didn't show an strung out woman. Natalie played the part of a woman from a nice home who had a place to come back to and people who loved her.
She has left behind a legacy of beautiful music, but she has also become another statistic.
Still, I will put in her music, whether it's R&B, pop, Christmas, or the standards that she sang in tribute to her father.
And I'll think of driving a Pink Cadillac with crushed velvet seats.
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