Natalie Cole at West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, CA
by guest columnist Dr. Eric J. Chambers
TBR (Los Angeles) Music legend Natalie Cole was remembered at the West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles on Monday as a kind, giving and loving friend, family member and singer. She died on New Year’s Eve at age 65.
The nearly three-hour funeral featured salutes from some of music’s biggest names including David Foster, Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder who said, “We speak of love, talk of love, but we don’t do love. We’ve got a lot of work to do Natalie,” he said before singing a soulful rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Added Richie, I’ll always remember her laughter, her voice, her silliness and encouraging me when I was down. I love you and cherish our memories together.”
He also spoke about the incredible pressure entertainers have, to be great, especially when coming from a family that already had a superstar as Natalie had her dad, the late Nat King Cole. But he reminded the crowd of approximately 3000 people that she was more than a star, but “a superstar!”
Natalie’s 38-year-old son Robert Adam Yancy was grateful for all the love showered in his mother’s memory, but he told the audience, “I simply just want to talk about my mom. What a woman!” he said as the crowd clapped. “I was blessed to have someone who loved me, cared for me and taught me how to love. Today for me is a glorious day. I’ve shed my tears and had my moments.” After a pause, he continued, “She was my rock! The greatest thing she ever gave me was Jesus,” he said as the attendees looked on.
Cole’s twin sisters shared memories of her being the boss of them, always looking out and being protective. They also said to the world she was Natalie, to them she was “Sweetie.” And their kids called Natalie, “Auntee Sweetie.”
Pastor Melvin Wade of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Los Angeles delivered the eulogy, sharing fun stories over the years. She was a member of his church and her son plays drums in the church’s band. He said Natalie was pregnant with Robert when they met at Redd Foxx’s home in 1977 when he was a guest of Rev. Jesse Jackson who was also present.
The most powerful performance of the day came from Kurt Carr and his singers when Yvette Williams led his classic “For Every Mountain.” The song had everyone on their feet, including Foster and other luminaries.
Carr said he met Cole during one of her many visits to West Angeles Church when he was a part of the music ministry. “Natalie was one of the classiest people I’ve ever met. She was a royal queen but a sistah girl,” he said. “She came over to my house for dinner and pulled out of her designer bag, a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce!” he said as the people erupted with laughter.
Gladys Knight, Eddie Levert, Chaka Khan and Jeffrey Osborne were among the many celebrities who came out to bid their friend farewell. She was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA where her parents are buried.
Below is a photo recap, following the service, courtesy of Dr. Eric J. Chambers.
Jackee Harry, Cookie Johnson, Tonya Winfield and others.
May we continue to keep the family in prayer!