Natalie Cole was laid to rest in Los Angeles on Monday after dying of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension on New Year’s Eve at the age of 65.
The legendary singer’s memorial service was held at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ and attended by icons from across the musical world. Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and David Foster all spoke at the service, as did Cole’s sisters, Timolin Cole Augustus and Casey Cole Hooker, and her son, Robert Adam Yancy.
Many other family and friends attended the service, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Ken Ehrlich, Star Jones, Johnny Mathis and Ledisi.
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The room was filled with white flowers -- said to be Cole’s favorite -- in various arrangements, and a massive bouquet of white roses sat atop the closed casket. The service also featured plenty of music, including one of Cole’s favorite songs, “Thank You Lord,” as the processional.
Wonder performed a moving rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer,” which Richie later joked he was hesitant to follow. Spirits were high during the service, with speakers smiling and laughing through their tributes, and guests were reminded that it was a “celebration of life.” Foster, who attended solo, even joked about once ribbing Cole for giving him relationship advice.
"Her advice to me sometimes centered around my many marriages" the music producer said, adding that after several "Natalie-bashings," he reminded the singer that "her track record in the marriage department was not that great."
Cole’s son -- called “Robbie” by friends and family -- also played the drums during the service at the request of his mother’s pastor. All of the speakers referenced Cole’s love for her son, saying that he was the “light of her life.”
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Robinson concluded his remarks by quoting the singer herself -- "Let him love you and then you'll see, 'this will be an everlasting love'" -- before the recessional was held to Cole’s songs, “Our Love” and “This Will Be.”
“I feel so blessed to have called you my friend and my buddy, and many times my confidante,” he said in his remarks. “You are so real and so down to Earth. I guess now I have to say you’re so real and so up to heaven.”
After the service, police escorted family to a private interment service at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California. Cole was buried alongside her parents, Nat King Cole and Maria Hawkins.
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