Nat King Cole

Instrument

Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer, jazz pianist, and actor. He recorded over 100 songs that became hits on the pop charts. His trio was the model for small jazz ensembles that followed. Cole also acted in films and on television and performed on Broadway. He was the first African-American man to host an American television series. He was the father of singer-songwriter Natalie Cole (1950–2015).

Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 17, 1919.[2] He had three brothers: Eddie (1910–1970), Ike (1927–2001), and Freddy (1931–2020),[3] and a half-sister, Joyce Coles.[4] Each of the Cole brothers pursued careers in music.[4] When Nat King Cole was four years old, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where his father, Edward Coles, became a Baptist minister.[5]

Cole learned to play the organ from his mother, Perlina Coles, the church organist.[6] His first performance was "Yes! We Have No Bananas" at the age of four.[7] He began formal lessons at 12,[8] learning jazz, gospel, and classical music on piano "from Johann Sebastian Bach to Sergei Rachmaninoff".[9] As a youth, he joined the news delivery boys' "Bud Billiken Club" band for The Chicago Defender.[10]

The Cole family moved to the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago,[11] where he attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School,[12] the school Sam Cooke attended a few years later.[13] He participated in Walter Dyett's music program at DuSable High School.[14] He would sneak out of the house to visit clubs, sitting outside to hear Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jimmie Noone.