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'She Captivated You': Casey Cole Remembers Her Sister, Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole performs on stage at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on March 2, 2015 in New York City.
Dimitrios Kambouris
Getty Images
Natalie Cole performs on stage at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on March 2, 2015 in New York City.

Music lovers were shocked and saddened to hear of the death singer Natalie Cole on New Year's Eve. Cole was 65.

She was the daughter of jazz icon Nat King Cole but went on to create her own legacy, selling millions of albums across a wide range of genres and winning nine Grammy awards.

Two of Natalie Cole's younger sisters, twins Casey and Timolin Cole, run a nonprofit called The Nat King Cole Generation Hope, which is dedicated to supporting music education in public schools.

Casey Cole talked with NPR's Michel Martin about the life, art and legacy of her sister Natalie Cole.

Click on the audio link above to hear the conversation, or read below for some excerpts from the radio interview, as well as two Web-only Q&As.

Interview Highlights

On Natalie Cole as an artist

Her pitch was perfect. Her tone was amazing. When she sang, it was if she was literally singing to you. Similarly to our father, she drew you in, she captivated you. Not only with her voice, but with her charm, with her diction. When she sang it was if she really, really, really had a part of her in every single lyric of that song, so you were right there with her.

On the singer's early struggles with drugs

Natalie conquered, if you will, those demons, with her strength and with her faith and with the support of so many people around her. My sister was a warrior.

On her later health struggles

She never stopped performing, she never stopped working, she was a true artist-- very loyal to her craft and to her passion.

Her health was failing but her spirit was very, very strong. I think that most people who were faced with the challenges health-wise that she had been faced with over the last few years, would have given up. ... She needed to keep going, that's who she was. That was her gift to the world and her fans.

On Natalie Cole as a friend and sister

She was indeed quite a loyal friend to those who knew her, on so many different levels.

Even though she has only two sisters biologically left, Timolin and myself, there's so many people who will say, "She was my sister. She was like a sister to me."

And that was how incredible she was. When you were with her you felt like you were the only one in the world.

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