Supporters of Natalie Cole took to social media late Monday to express frustration that the singer, who died on Dec. 31 of idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension, didn’t receive a proper tribute at the Grammy Awards. “Here is a woman who has been in the business for four decades, had 21 Grammy nominations and won nine Grammys,” Cole’s son Robert Adam Yancy told ET. “She deserves more than (to be a part of) a minute-and-a-half tribute.”
Numerous other musicians who died in the previous year, including David Bowie, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, and Glenn Frey, received extensive musical tributes during the show; Cole was only featured briefly in an “In Memoriam” presentation.
“Sadly a forgettable tribute to Natalie Cole,” Cole’s sisters, Timolin and Casey, told ET. “Words cannot express the outrage and utter disappointment at the disrespectful tribute, or lack thereof, to a legendary artist such as our sister.”
Other prominent voices shared their thoughts after the ceremony. “For all you gave, you should have been acknowledged and honored in the correct way by your musical family and peers,” Empire star Jussie Smollett wrote on Instagram. “Shame on those who thought otherwise. It takes nothing away from anyone else’s brilliance.”
Actress Holly Robinson Peete offered one reason on Twitter why Cole should’ve been honored more extensively: “We lost so many greats but Natalie Cole first African American to win Best New Artist deserved a tribute.” CNN’s Chris Witherspoon shared a similar reaction noting that Cole’s Grammys legacy was more significant than other artists who received tributes. “Nine Grammys and only gets a photo in remembrance montage,” he wrote on Twitter. “David Bowie… one Grammy and he received a 7-minute tribute.”