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Nat "King" Cole

Nat King Cole was one of the most popular singers ever to hit the American charts. A brilliant recording and concert artist during the 40's, 50's and 60's, he attracted millions of fans around the world with a sensitive and caressing singing voice that was unmistakable.

Cole has a rare blend of technical musical knowledge and sheer performing artistry topped off with an abundance of showmanship. In the 23 years that he recorded with Capitol Records, he turned out hit after amazing hit - nearly 700 songs - all the while managing to remain a gentle, tolerant and gracious human being.

Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1919. He was the son of Baptist minister, Edward James Coles, and mother, Perlina Adams, who sang soprano and directed the choir in her husband's church. Cole grew up in Chicago, met and married a girl in New York; they had five children and lived in Hancock Park in Los Angeles.

He had a distinctive voice, which has been compared to the quality of velvet, a pussy willow, a calm evening breeze, a still summer morning and a soft snow fall. In the case of Nat King Cole, who dropped an “s” off his last name and put a nickname in the middle, the lyricism is merited.

The first sign that Cole was destined for a musical life was at age four, when he was able to pick out a fairly good two-handed rendition of “Yes, We Have No Bananas.” He later played the organ in his father's church. In high school he organized a 14-piece band, with himself as pianist and leader.

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