Congestive heart failure has a way of lurking in the background for God knows how long and then suddenly lowering the boom. So it was with Natalie Cole, taken from us on New Year’s Eve at sixty-five. If it was unexpected, and it was, well, she didn’t look sick recently:
And could she still sing, you ask? You needn’t have asked. In 2013 she cut her last studio album, a collection of Latin standards (Natalie Cole en español) which topped the Latin chart, just missed the top of the Jazz chart, and even crept into the top half of the Billboard 200. The niftiest track, I think, was the five-minute medley enclosed by Tito Puente’s “Oye como va,” which was energetic as anything she’d ever done. But this is the track people clamored for: a version of “Acércate más” (“Come Closer to Me”) in which she’s accompanied by her father.
And if her intonation is better than his — neither of them spoke Spanish — no one’s going to say a word.