Thursday, March 17, 2011


Today is Nat King Cole's birthday.

Nat "King" Cole (1919-1965)
We know him best as the velvet-smooth voice performing The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).

But Nat King Cole was originally known for his skills on the piano — check out this early video of the King Cole Trio:

I mentioned Cole briefly in a couple of posts last month, because of the anniversary of his death, and because of his role in African American history.

From William Ruhlmann's biographical sketch on AllMusic:

For a mild-mannered man whose music was always easy on the ear, Nat King Cole managed to be a figure of considerable controversy during his 30 years as a professional musician. From the late '40s to the mid-'60s, he was a massively successful pop singer who ranked with such contemporaries as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Dean Martin.... as a prominent African-American entertainer during an era of tumultuous change in social relations among the races in the U.S., he sometimes found himself out of favor with different warring sides. His efforts at integration, which included suing hotels that refused to admit him and moving into a previously all-white neighborhood in Los Angeles, earned the enmity of racists; once, he was even physically attacked on-stage in Alabama. But civil rights activists sometimes criticized him for not doing enough for the cause.
A couple more performances:

And just for fun, an appearance on the gameshow What's My Line:

Happy Birthday, Nat. You're still Unforgettable.


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