Nat "King" Cole Biography
Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer, jazz pianist, and actor. Cole's career as a jazz and pop vocalist started in the late 1930s and spanned almost three decades where he found success and recorded over 100 songs that became hits on the pop charts. He received numerous accolades including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, a Special Achievement Golden Globe Award and a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. Cole started his career as a jazz pianist in the late 1930s, where he formed The King Cole Trio which became the top-selling group (and the only black act) on Capitol Records in the 1940s. His trio was the model for small jazz ensembles that followed. Starting in 1950 he transitioned to become a solo singer billed as Nat King Cole. Despite achieving mainstream success, during his career he faced intense racial discrimination. While not a major vocal public figure in the civil rights movement, Cole was a member of his local NAACP branch and participated in the 1963 March on Washington. He regularly performed for civil rights organizations. From 1956 to 1957, he hosted the NBC variety series The Nat King Cole Show, which became the first nationally broadcast television show hosted by an African American. Some of his most notable singles include "Unforgettable", "Smile", "L-O-V-E", "Let There Be Love", "Mona Lisa", "Autumn Leaves", "Stardust", "Straighten Up and Fly Right", "The Very Thought of You", "For Sentimental Reasons", "Embraceable You" and "Almost Like Being in Love". He is known for his Christmas album The Magic of Christmas (1960) which included "The Christmas Song"; in 1999 it was named by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest Christmas albums of all time. He was the father of singer Natalie Cole (1950–2015), who covered her father's songs in the 1991 album Unforgettable... with Love.