Born on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama, Nat King Cole was an American musician who first came to prominence as a jazz pianist. He owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. In 1956, Cole became the first African-American performer to host a variety television series, and for many white families, he was the first black man welcomed into their living rooms each night. He has maintained worldwide popularity since his death in 1965.
Nat King Cole became the first African-American performer to host a variety TV series in 1956. He’s best known for his soft baritone voice and for singles like “The Christmas Song,” “Mona Lisa” and “Nature Boy.”
In his early teens, Cole had formal classical piano training. He eventually abandoned classical for his other musical passion—jazz. Earl Hines, a leader of modern jazz, was one of Cole’s biggest inspirations. At 15, he dropped out of school to become a jazz pianist full time. Cole joined forces with his brother Eddie for a time, which led to his first professional recordings in 1936. He later joined a national tour for the musical revue Shuffle Along, performing as a pianist.
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