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WHEN Natalie Cole exploded on the scene last summer with the single of "This Will Be", I don't think anybody could have visualised the tremendous impression that this charming young lady could have made in such a short time as nine months. Aside from "This Will Be" becoming an American No. 1, it also attained chart status in several countries around the world. She immediately followed through with an equally successful album, "Inseperable" and then Capitol culled the title cut from the album and watched it, too, climb to the very top in the States. To underline that this is no fluke, you only have to take a peep at this week's American chart and you'll find that Ms. Cole has hit the jackpot with a hat-trick of hits because "Sophisticated Lady" is nestled safely in the American Top 10 and still climbing — plus, it's a chart single in this country after only a week on release. To continue the recording activity, Capitol have just rushed the new album out worldwide. Entitled simply "Natalie", it perhaps underlines that Natalie could justifably claim the title of 'sophisticated lady' for herself. Whereas the first album was only brilliant, the new album is scintillating! "I'm very happy with it," Natalie non-chalantly said when really pressed on the subject of the new LP. "I guess I'm so indoctrinated still with the first album that the new one is only just sinking in even for me! In fact, it's only now that I can honestly say I'm enjoying it as much as other people are. On the first LP, reviewers compared me vocally to Aretha — some said I was almost copying her but it's my natural way of singing. But I knew I had to create my own style completely and that's what I've tried to do for the new album. The songs aren't really even comparable to what Aretha would do and so I feel I have been able to create a Natalie Cole sound this time."

Natalie is quick to cite the contribution of her producers and writers, Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy (of Independents fame, too). "The contribution of the Rev. Yancy is imperative," she stresses. "He plays on all of the sessions and though he can't read or write music, his piano style is so distinctive. I guess he's just a gifted musician. But, in fact, all of the musicians make up a key factor in the recording because they, too, have a distinctive type of sound. But this album is that much more varied than the first one, I think. Each song is from a different direction and though "Sophisticated Lady" is the first single to be released, we believe that both "Mr. Melody" and "No Plans For The Future" will become future singles."

But whilst recording and record releases are of importance to Natalie right now, they tend to run second place against the happy event that will take place in New York on August 1 this year. On that date, Natalie will become Mrs. Kevin Nance. "We met in New York last June," Natalie excitedly recalled. "I went to a private party to a place called the Seafood Playhouse and Kevin's band were the resident band that had also been hired for the evening. At the time, I was looking for a band and a girlfriend of mine had recommended that I see the band because she felt they would be ideal for me. Needless to say, I took them on! So far, though, Kevin hasn't played on the recording dates but since we are seriously thinking about making the next album a 'live' one, there is every chance that he'll play on that one."

I must confess that the prospect of a 'live' set at this relatively early stage in the lady's career sounded rather unusual — and, to be truthful, unnecessary since she has barely twenty songs to choose from as far as recorded history is concerned. "I think that people will be ready to respond to the songs as they are in a 'live' show," Natalie explained. "I would probably include 75% of songs on the two albums and the rest would be based around completely new material and songs that I always include in my show. Personally, I love the atmosphere of a 'live' show and if you can capture that atmosphere, I think an album can be a real gem. For instance, I consider Marvin Gaye's "Live In Oakland" album to be one of the very best albums of all time. And I'd naturally retain the same producers because they are part of the Natalie Cole sound — which, of course, they have done a great deal towards creating."

Ms. Cole's impact on the music industry has been nothing short of phenomenal. Back in February, she won two Grammys (the highest accolade the entertainment world can give one of its own). She was voted Best Female R&B Vocaliste of 1975 and also Best New Female Artiste of 1975. It certainly didn't hinder her chances having such a famous father as Nat 'King' Cole. "Oh, yes, I'd have to say it helped," exclaimed this lively, lovely and frank young lady who answers each and every question with a refreshing openness. "I think that whoever had been given the material I was given would have hit but being my father's daughter perhaps brought everything to a head in double quick time. But I really appreciate the acknowledgement and honour that has been bestowed on me."

Since the last time we met, Natalie's image has changed slightly — and for the better. "After Europe, I had all of my hair cut off and I have gone back to my natural look," she giggled when it was suggested that she was no longer merely beautiful, but radiant. "During my stay here in Las Vegas, though, I've parted my hair in the middle and pulled the hair back. But by the time I get back to Europe — which we hope will be in September, by the way — it may have all changed again."

Whichever way she looks, I can assure you that she'll get no complaints — and judging by the music on the new "Natalie" album, her listeners will equally have no cause for complaint. She's one 'sophisticated lady' who isn't afraid to get down when that's what her fans require.




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Natalie Cole February 1978 Interview
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