Cole in an uptrend personally and professionally. Her album `Everlasting' `more than just a comeback'

Singer Natalie Cole has had her share of ups and downs, both in the music business and in her personal life. But now she's on an upward trend that shows no sign of slacking off. With a drug problem behind her, and an album that came out last May an unqualified success, she's at a high point in her career. Miss Cole's album ``Everlasting'' has been in the top 100 on the Billboard pop charts for 24 weeks, and she's had two hit video singles from it, ``Jump Start'' and ``I Live for Your Love.'' A third single, a hot rhythm-and-blues version of Bruce Springsteen's ``Pink Cadillac,'' is about to be released. Her first album in two years, ``Everlasting'' is a mix of dance tracks, ballads, and pop tunes - right up her alley, since she's never been stuck in one style.

Said Cole in an interview: ``I think that even when I started I was always very versatile, and for my record company, if not for critics, it was a problem, because they would always try to label me as R&B, and before they knew it, before anyone knew it, it was R&B pop, then they started hearing me do jazz, and they didn't know what to do with me.'' But, she said, ``I liked it that way.''

Natalie Cole was raised in a show-business family, and her famous father, Nat (King) Cole, was a strong musical influence on her. Her recording career began in 1975 with the album ``Inseparable,'' which went gold and won her two Grammys. This was followed by a series of gold and platinum releases. But the glitter of stardom eventually got her into trouble with drugs and alcohol. Her family and friends, however, helped her get back on her feet, both personally and musically.

``During that down period I really learned all of the stuff I know right now,'' says Cole. ``I learned confidence; I learned definitely a higher self-esteem; I have reinforced my faith in God. It hasn't always been as steady and consistent as it is now. I am closer to the basics of life, and I'm not disillusioned by the music business.''

Cole is busy these days. She did a 10-day concert stint in England last summer, and since then she has been touring steadily and doing TV spots in support of ``Everlasting.'' About the album, she says, ``This is the kind of album I wanted to have for some time. This was my signature. It's more than just a comeback album - this is what I do best.''

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