Lionel Frederick Cole was born on October 15, 1931, the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole's five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (twelve years Freddy's senior) were all musicians.
I started playing piano at five or six, Freddy remembers. Music was all around me. In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington
, Count Basie
, and Lionel Hampton
. He also credits Billy Eckstine
as a major influence. He was a fantastic entertainer, Freddy recalls. I learned so much from just watching and being around him. After a possible career with the NFL was shelved due to a hand injury, he began playing and singing in Chicago clubs as a teenager. Although he was ready to hit the road at 18, his mother intervened and he continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago.
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Freddy has an impeccable sense of swing... he is, overall, the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive. --The New York Times
Gorgeous autumnal baritone, expressive phrasing and pitch-perfect feel for jazz standards, pop tunes and love ballads. --People Magazine