As the daughter of one of the greatest vocal stars of the 20th century, Natalie Cole was always in the spotlight. Indeed, she was singing on Nat ‘King’ Cole‘s Christmas album when she was just six. But 30 August 1975 marked her emergence as an exciting new jazz-soul talent in her own right. She entered the Billboard Hot 100 with her debut hit and a Grammy-winning career highlight, ‘This Will Be.’
Written and produced by Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy, the unusual track opened doors that had previously been closed to the now 25-year-old Natalie. The duo’s production of some demos for Cole helped her to win a recording contract with Capitol, who believed in ‘This Will Be’ so much that it became her debut single for release for them that June.
Soon afterwards, the song was included in a medley on the live album A Man and a Woman by the dynamic, soulful combination of Isaac Hayes and Dionne Warwick. Then in 1979, it was afforded another notable live version by Dusty Springfield, who performed it in a performance released, sadly posthumously, in 2005 as Live at the Royal Albert Hall.
Cole’s successful launch was complete when, early in 1976, ‘This Will Be’ won her the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Remarkably, it was the first time since the award’s inception in 1968 that it hadn’t been won by Aretha Franklin. A year later, Natalie kept the award for herself, when she won again with what had been her third straight R&B No. 1 (after the album’s title song), ‘Sophisticated Lady (She’s A Different Lady).’ A spectacular career ensued, in which Natalie overcame personal demons and health issues before her sad death from congestive heart failure in December 2015 at the age of 65.
‘This Will Be’ is on Inseparable, which can be bought here.