Posted by themusicsover on February 15, 2010
Nat King Cole (Born Nathanial Coles)
March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965
Nat King Cole was an internationally renowned jazz singer, songwriter and pianist who broke many color barriers for African-American musicians. He is rightfully considered one of America’s musical treasures. Cole learned to play the piano as a child in his father’s church, and by the time he was in his mid teens, he was well on his way with a career in music. He made his first recording with his brother, Eddie, in 1936, and within a year, he moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the recording industry. In 1943, he became one of the first acts to sign with Capitol Records and when the label built its iconic round headquarters in Hollywood in 1956, it was dubbed “the house that Nat built.” Over the course of his career recording for Capitol, Cole released such now-standards as “L-O-V-E,” “Mona Lisa,” “Unforgettable,” and “Route 66.” In November of 1956, NBC caused a stir when it debuted The Nat King Cole Show, the first of its kind to be hosted by an African-American. In 1958, Cole released the widely successful Cole en Espanol, likely the first collection of Spanish songs recorded by an African-American. It spawned three similar Cole collections in the coming years. A heavy smoker through most of his life – he believed the smoking enhanced his voice – Nat King Cole died of cancer on February 15, 1965. He was 45.