The life and four-decade musical legacy of Grammy Award winner Natalie Cole was celebrated Monday morning (Jan. 11) at West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles.
Among the R&B icon’s friends spotted at the 11 a.m. funeral service that was open to the public: singers Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, the O’Jays‘ Eddie Levert, Mary Wilson, Gladys Knight, Ledisi, Freda and Scherrie Payne and producer David Foster.
Also on hand was longtime friend Chaka Khan, who was expected to perform but was under the weather. One of the service’s more touching moments, noted one attendee, was Wonder’s delivery of the Lord’s Prayer. Sharing their remembrances of Cole, whose casket was covered and framed by white roses, were Richie and Robinson. Additional performers included the Kurt Carr Singers, members of Cole’s band and singer Lynne Fiddmont.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and actresses Denise Nicholas and Angela Bassett, the latter with her husband/actor Courtney B. Vance, also paid their respects. “To have spent time in [Natalie’s] presence was special,” Bassett told Billboard in an earlier email. “It made you feel special as well because she was one of those rare individuals who greeted your soul.”
Cole died on New Year’s Eve at age 65 of pulmonary arterial hypertension, which led to heart failure. She was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif., next to parents Maria and Nat King Cole, sister Carol and brother Kelly. Cole is survived by her son Robert Yancy and sisters Timolin and Casey.