Natalie Cole leaves the past behind


"There's an old church saying, you only see the glory but you don't know the story," she said.

Cole had developed a serious drug habit. She got hooked on heroin, crack cocaine and alcohol. She was living dangerously close to the edge for years.

In 1981, when fire swept through the Las Vegas Hilton, Cole got trapped inside her room. Having just played a gig, she and her bodyguard waited too long to escape.

"I had pulled out my paraphernalia that had my drugs. I was getting ready to say, 'OK, this is the way I'm going. I guess I'm going out like this,'" she told Hughes. "And I was talking to God and I said, If you want me to go, I'm going. This is how I'm going out. You know, and when they hacked, you know, axed the door down and came through it was like Valhalla. I mean, it was like God was saying, 'I'm not through with you yet.'"

Still, it wasn't enough. In her frank autobiography, Cole reveals the most personal details of her struggle, later depicted in a made-for-TV movie. In 1983, she hit rock-bottom and spent six months at the Hazelden Clinic in Minnesota.

"Those people gave me my life back one day at a time," she said. "And it was such a revelation, actually for me to start liking myself after all these years. I didn't realize I was still grieving for my father at 30-something."

It was a long way back to the top of charts. In 1989 she made it with the song, "Miss you Like Crazy." Two years later, with the help of the man she missed the most, her career reached new heights when she recorded the multi-Grammy-winning duet, "Unforgettable," in the same Capitol studio her father used decades before.

"That was really my thank-you," she said. "I owed that to him."

Looking back, she says one of her biggest regrets was divorcing her first husband, songwriter Marvin Yancy, the father of her only son, Robbie, who now tours with her.

Although she prefers to keep her private life private, the one original song on the new album, "Five Minutes Away," is written for her new boyfriend.

After many struggles, Cole said she is on solid ground today and thinks her father is proud of her.

"I think that I am a walking testimony to, you can have scars," she said. "You can go through turbulent times and still have victory in your life."