“UNFORGETTABLE,” THAT’S WHAT SHE’LL ALWAYS BE
It still was a great loss and much too soon. She had such a wonderful voice, the ability to put her own personality and stamp on each song she gave us to simply enjoy. And if you ever met her, she exhibited a charming character that was gracious and considerate.
Years ago I hosted a Toronto talk-interview-music program during the afternoon “drive” shift. NATALIE opened for a week’s run in the dressy Imperial Room of the Royal York Hotel, one of the very last dinner-entertainment rooms of an earlier era.
Knowing she was going to be a guest on my radio show, I went to opening night to catch her act prior to our talk the next afternoon. It was a lovely, not showy program of classic music from what TONY BENNETT often calls the “Great (North) American Songbook” consisting mostly of fresh interpretation of beloved, time-tested standards
It also provided me with a moment (that only happened three times in my life) where the hair stood up on the back of my neck, for very special reason. The technology had just been created to allow a live act to combine with pre-recorded music. So Natalie was up on stage, orchestra leading into a song, when a recorded voice began that she later harmonized with, in a duet.
Prior to our interview, I had been told by handlers that no questions were to be asked about her legendary father, NAT KING COLE, as NATALIE was trying to establish her own name and career independent from her father’s legacy. Naturally I respected that.
So at one point, rather than ask a question, I made a statement. “NATALIE, last night when you opened, there was one moment that stopped me right in my tracks. As your orchestra behind you began the intro to “Unforgettable,” your father’s wonderful and unique voice came on first, then you joined that in a duet. It was an amazing moment for me and one I’ll never forget.”
She smiled and replied: “The public doesn’t know this as he would like to keep a low profile, but my first guitarist is my brother. The second we hear the voice, each and every time, we both get a lump in our throats and discreetly nod to each other. We both say ‘that’s Dad, and he’s still with us.’ We too, find that moving and so special, each time as if it was the first!”