A clip of the late Natalie Cole and her father Nat King Cole’s duet of “Unforgettable” played during the Grammy Awards’ “In Memoriam” segment during Monday night’s (Feb. 15) broadcast. The singer, who passed away at the age of 65 on December 31, should have been remembered with a performance instead, according to her sisters Timolin and Casey.
“Words cannot express the outrage and utter disappointment at the disrespectful tribute, or lack thereof, to a legendary artist such as our sister,” they said in a statement sent exclusively to Entertainment Tonight. Natalie was the first black musician to win “Best New Artist” and won a total of nine Grammys throughout her career. They were not the only ones upset; actress Holly Robinson Peete and Empire creator/director Lee Daniels also used social media to voice their disdain about the snub.
However, the Grammy Awards are standing by their decision to include her in the segment and not do a solo tribute, according to Billboard.
“Frankly, I think it was appropriate,” said Ken Ehrlich, the show’s producer, who also mentioned that he ran the idea by Cole’s sister Timolin, who was fine with it originally.
“…at one point I was playing around with ‘Miss You Like Crazy,’ because I love that song,” he said. “But when I looked again at the Grammy show we did where she won for ‘Unforgettable,’ and I saw the last 45 seconds of that number, where her father throws her a kiss, she throws him a kiss, and then she turns to the audience and throws everybody a kiss — that just was so touching and so emotional to me that that felt like it had to be the end of the whole ‘In Memoriam’ segment. I hadn’t looked at that clip in several years, but when I saw it again, I knew it was right.”
David Wild, the telecast’s co-writer said that the clip in particular is extremely special because of Ehrlich’s connection to the starlet.
“That clip really impacted him, and he thought, he’s not gonna do better at Natalie than Natalie,” he explained. “When he found that clip and showed it to me, he was sort of in tears, because it meant so much to him.”
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) February 16, 2016
Natalie Cole… 9 Grammys and only gets a photo in remembrance montage. David Bowie…1 Grammy and he received a 7 minute tribute. #GRAMMYs
— Chris Witherspoon (@WitherspoonC) February 16, 2016
Guess we’ll have to wait for the BET Awards to give Maurice White and Natalie Cole some proper tributes #GRAMMYS
— Film Fatale NYC (@FilmFatale_NYC) February 16, 2016
Natalie Cole died 2 wks b4 David Bowie did, won more Grammys than he did, yet David got a proper tribute than she did? @TheGRAMMYs, U f’d up
— Denise (@Cocosilk73) February 16, 2016