Natalie Cole Owns Her Life.

Author:Bass, Patrik Henry

Her new book talks about messing up and cleaning up when you're rich and famous

Natalie Cole seldom plays it safe. In her eagerly anticipated autobiography, An Angel on My Shoulder (Warner, November 2000, $25.95, ISBN 0-446-52746-7), written with Digby Diehl, the Grammy Award-winner and multi-platinum singer throws caution to the wind. Cole's meteoric rise and devastating fall from grace is not only detailed in her book, but CBS is airing a Cole biopic on November 17; and for good measure, Elektra is releasing a 25th anniversary album of Cole classics to coincide with the release of the book.

Her tender arms reached out to us from the cover of Inseparable, her 1975 Grammy Award-winning debut album, and since then, we have watched her grow up, mess up, and finally get cleaned up. Looking back, she has traveled a long, drug-hazed road to the confident woman she is today, as her appearances at every A-list concert and charity event (not to mention zillionaire Bill Gates' wedding reception) attest.

"We all come to self-knowledge in different ways and at different times. Sure, I wish I could have been smarter when I was younger" she writes. "Then again, I know women my age and older who still haven't figured this out."

For many, she will always be Nat King Cole's dutiful daughter. Nat King Cole is written all over her face. Over the past decade, as Cole moved closer to fully embracing her father's music legacy, she has gotten increasingly comfortable in her own skin. Now, she has, as old folks say, come into her own face.

Like her ground-breaking, Grammy Award-sweeping album Unforgettable ... With Love, wherein Cole interpreted her father's songs, An Angel on My Shoulder appears headed for the top of bestseller lists, although a celebrity's name and photograph on the cover of a book do not always guarantee blockbuster sales.

Patti LaBelle's Don't Block the Blessings and Sidney Poitier's Measure of Man (both of which benefitted from appearances on "Oprah") had respectable runs on New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestsellers lists, but autobiographies by Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Kirk Franklin, Teddy Pendegrass, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, Cissy Houston, Queen Latifah, Della Reese, Star Jones, Mother Love, Gloria Gaynor, Snoop Dogg, Chris Rock and L.L. Cool J had only brief appearances. Most quickly disappeared into bookstore discount bins.

Biographies by Tina Turner (I, Tina) and perennial Supreme Mary Wilson (Dreamgirl: My Life as a Supreme)...

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