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Nat King Cole
*This date remembers Nat King Cole, born in 1919. He was a Black musician and singer.
Nathaniel Adams Cole was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but grew up in Chicago. In 1937, after touring with a Black musical revue, he began playing in jazz clubs in Los Angeles. There he formed the King Cole Trio, with guitarist Oscar Moore and bassist Wesley Prince, in 1939. With his compact, syncopated backup chords and clean, spare, melodic phrases, Cole emphasized the piano as a solo, rather than a rhythm, instrument in his jazz arrangements.
Commercial success came with his singing. After Straighten Up and Fly Right (1943), Cole gradually abandoned jazz piano for popular vocals. Among his other hits were Nature Boy, Mona Lisa, Too Young, and Unforgettable. After his marriage to Maria Hawkins Ellington, his daughter Natalie Maria Cole was born in Los Angeles, CA.
Cole toured internationally and appeared in motion pictures. He first came to prominence as a jazz pianist but reached enormous popularity with his warm, relaxed, somewhat breathy-voiced ballad singing. He died on February 15, 1965, in Santa Monica, California.