Pianist, songwriter and singer Nathaniel Adams Coles was born on March 17th, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama – he and his family soon moved to Chicago. Influenced by Louis Armstrong and particularly Earl Hines, he began performing as a teenager, and then soon after moved west to California and began recording with his King Cole Trio.
An accomplished jazz pianist Cole became better known for his unforgettable voice. In 1956 he made history as the first African American to host a music variety TV show. Although popular the show never gained commercial national sponsorship and despite efforts by NBC and many of Cole’s guests – Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald, Eartha Kitt and Mel Torme - who appeared for scale or no pay, Cole’s show was never financially viable and lasted only a little over a year. Unfortunately, but thankfully, we still have his extensive audio library. He passed away in 1965 of lung cancer.
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