Natalie Cole - vocals; Mr. Neu Williams - piano; Paul Smith - organ, keyboards; Andrew Castler - guitar; Keith Hatchel - bass; Teddy Sparks - drums; Wayne Havasham - percussion; Anita Annison and Missy Peeples - backing vocals
Emerging from the monolithic shadow of her late father, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole had a lot to prove when she was introduced to the world as a pop/R&B diva in the early 1970s. Initially, she strayed far away from the lush jazz standards her dad had eventually become known for, opting rather to embrace a straight ahead modern R&B sound. Signed to her father's former label, Capitol Records, Cole was quickly accepted by most fans and critics, for, despite the famous connection, she truly had a great voice and wonderful stage presence.
This recording, made for the King Biscuit Flower Hour in June of 1977, features a high energy performance that Cole kicks off with her R&B hit "Unpredictable," which moves smoothly into the next tune, "Party Lights." "Ms. Natalie," as she has been called by fans, was in fine form for the show, despite the fact that she had already begun the battle with substance abuse that would be so dramatically publicized years later.
Cole began singing at age 11, and continued with semi-professional work while in college. In 1975, she teamed up with the songwriting production team of Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy. Demos cut with the help of Impressions founder Curtis Mayfield helped landed her the deal with Capitol.
Between 1975 and 1983, Cole, with the support of the Jackson/Yancy team, had five Top 10 R&B hits, the biggest of which was "This Will Be An Everlasting Love," (which can now be heard daily as the music for the e-harmony.com television commercials).
After conquering her personal problems through rehab, Cole re-emerged in 1987 to record an album of pop/jazz material. Looking to embrace a more mature profile, she fully changed her musical style with 1991's Unforgettable, which won four Grammy awards and featured a timeless duet with her late father. Cole remains a top draw as mainly a jazz vocalist, but occasionally she performs concerts that embrace the earlier R&B style featured in this performance.
In any event, an endlessly inspiring performance.