Maria Hawkins Cole, widow of jazz crooner Nat “King” Cole and mother of singer Natalie Cole, has died in South Florida after a short battle with cancer. She was 89.
A representative of the family confirmed that she died Tuesday at a Boca Raton hospice, surrounded by her family.
Before and after marrying the famed singer and piano player, Maria Cole had her own long singing career, performing with greats such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
Like Elev8 On Facebook To Enrich Your Mind, Body & Soul!
Born in Boston in 1922, she lived as a child in North Carolina after her mother died, according to a statement from the family. She later moved to New York to pursue a music career
According to her family, Ellington heard recordings of Maria Cole singing and hired her as a vocalist with his orchestra. She stayed with him until 1946 when she began soloing at the city’s Club Zanzibar as an opening act for the Mills Brothers. There she met Nat “King” Cole.