Natalie Cole Tribute Controversy: Grammys Producer Says Singer’s Sister Seemed ‘Very Happy’

Ken Ehrlich says he felt awards show had the family’s blessing with his plan for the segment

Natalie Cole‘s family might have complained following the tribute she received at this year’s Grammys, but before the show it was a different matter, according to the ceremony’s producer.

Ken Ehrlich told Billboard that he was in communication with Cole’s family prior to the show, and that he was under the impression that they had given the tribute their blessing. Ehrlich went so far as to say that Cole’s sister Timolin seemed “very happy” with the plans for the tribute.

“For the record, there was an email exchange, and I told Timolin what we were doing, and she seemed to be very happy with it. And what I told her is that we had talked about having an artist do something for Natalie; at one point I was playing around with ‘Miss You Like Crazy,’ because I love that song,” Ehrlich 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.”

Following the Grammys, Timolin, along with Cole’s other sister Casey and Natalie’s son Robert Adam Yancy, ripped into the tribute.

“Here is a woman who has been in the business for four decades, had 21 Grammy nominations and won nine Grammys,” Yancy told Entertainment Tonight. “She deserves more than (to be a part of) a minute-and-a-half tribute. It was shameless the way they minimized her legacy. We will find solace in her legacy as well as her endless fans around the world.”

In a statement, Timolin and Casey trashed the tribute as “forgettable” and “disrespectful.”

“Sadly a forgettable tribute to Natalie Cole,” the two said in a statement. “Words cannot express the outrage and utter disappointment at the disrespectful tribute, or lack thereof, to a legendary artist such as our sister.”

The tribute to Cole, who died in December of heart failure, was prominently featured in the “In Memoriam” segment of the show. Longer tributes were performed for David Bowie and Eagles founding member Glenn Frey, both of whom died earlier this year.