Natalie Cole Returns to the Stage in Hollywood

09/10/2009 at 06:05 PM EDT

Natalie Cole Returns to the Stage in Hollywood
Natalie Cole
Matt Sayles/AP
Four months after undergoing kidney transplant surgery, Natalie Cole made an energetic return to the stage Wednesday, belting out more than a dozen songs at a comeback concert in Hollywood.

"I really do have to say ... it really is a miracle time. It's a miracle night for me," she told the crowd at the Hollywood Bowl. "I never thought I'd be standing here healthy and whole and 100 percent."

The Grammy Award-winning singer, 59, dressed in an asymmetrical purple gown, received multiple standing ovations throughout the night – at the beginning of her performance when she first stepped out onstage, during songs and at the end of her encore performance.

"My heart is very full tonight, and I know a lot of you know why. It's just good to be back. You know what I'm saying?" she asked as fans cheered and applauded.

Cole, who was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in April 2008 and treated the liver disease with chemotherapy, also battled kidney problems later that year.

"You know, things don't always go the way we want it to," she said at Wednesday's concert, where she sang 17 songs – including fan favorites "This Will Be," "Our Love," and "Unforgettable" – and even danced along to a few tunes. "Things happen unexpectedly. You got to take the good with the bad."

Looking back at the past few months, which she described as "a real tough journey," and seeing how much she's recovered, Cole says her next goal is to bring awareness to the health problems she's overcome.

"One in eight people has kidney failure," she said. "That's a lot of people and I never thought it would happen to me, but here we are."

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