Our favorite time of the year is finally here!
It is time to celebrate and dedicate the entire month of February to black history. Follow Sheen Magazine along the way as we’ll share black history facts throughout the entire month. Every day, we will share little-known facts, celebrate those who played made their mark in history, and the historic moments and events.
Nat King Cole
Oh-so-smooth, Nat King Cole was born on March 17th, 1919 in Montgomery, Alabama. At the age of four, he learned to play the piano with the help from his mother, a church choir director. Nat is also the son of a Baptist pastor. In his teenage years, he grew tired of playing classical music and abandoned it for his first love, jazz. Earl Hines, was one of Nat’s biggest inspirations. At just 15-years-old, Nat dropped out of school to become a jazz pianist full time. He teamed up with his brother Eddie for some time, which led to his first professional recording in 1936.
He joined the national tour for Shuffle Along and performed as a pianist. A year after joining the tour, he began to put together King Cole Trio. They toured and landed a record on the charts in 1943 with “That Ain’t Right,” which was written by Nat himself. “Straight Up and Fly Right” was inspired by one of his father’s sermons and also became a hit for the group in 1944. A pop vocalist By the ’50s, Nat King Cole emerged on his own as a solo performer. He had many hits such as “Nature Boy,” “Too Young”, and “Unforgettable” just to name a few.
He worked with big names such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nelson Riddle, and even befriended Frank Sinatra! You probably guessed that Nat faced racism firsthand as he toured the south. In 1956, he was attacked by white supremacists during a mixed race performance in Alabama.
Nat King Cole made history in 1956, becoming the first African American performer to host a variety television series. The show was titled, The Nat King Cole Show and featured leading performers such as Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., and more! The series came to an end in December 1957.
In 1962, country influenced-hit, “Rambin’ Rose” reached the number two spot on the Billboard pop charts! He won hearts of millions with the release of his single, “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” shortly after.
Television and film
Cole appeared in the Errol Flynn drama, Istanbul in 1957. That same year he appeared in the drama China Gate with Gene Barry and Angie Dickinson. He starred in the drama film, St. Louis Blue which starred Eartha Kitt and Cab Calloway.
The passing of Nat King Cole
In 1964, Nat King Cole discovered hed had lung cancer just a few months later, on February 15th, 1965, Nat King Cole passed away at just 45-years-old in Santa Monica. Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, Rosemary Clooney and many legends attended Nat’s funeral in Los Angeles. Also around that time, L-O-V-E was released, Cole’s final recording.
Nat’s daughter, Natalie carried on her father’s profession and became a successful singer of her own! In 1991, she recorded her father’s song, “Unforgettable” and put their vocals together as a duet.
All information obtained on Biography
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