Born on March 17, 1919, Nat King Cole is remembered for his incredible contribution to R&B and Jazz and was one of the leading African American influences in his day! The singer got his start at the age of 15 after dropping out of high school to pursue a career in music!

Nat King Cole had his first big break with his older brother Eddie when they formed the band Eddie Cole's Swingsters in 1936! After two successful singles, the pair were invited to perform for the revival musical Shuffle Along, later going on tour with the musical! 

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Nat King Cole in 1960

Nat King Cole's Amazing Career

After the musical tour ended, Cole went on to lead a big band and perform at various nightclubs in Los Angeles, eventually forming his own band called the King Cole Swingsters (later renamed the King Cole Trio).

1940 brought Nat King Cole's first big hit, "Sweet Loraine", and more success followed with Cole producing over 100 hit songs! Some fan favorites included "All For You", (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66", "Mona Lisa", and "Orange Colored Sky". 

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Nat King Cole and wife Maria Cole 1964

Nat King Cole's Memory Lives On

In 1956, Nat King Cole became the first African American to host a TV program with The Nat 'King' Cole Show. Having his own experiences with racism in the 50s and 60s, Cole became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and even marched in the 1963 March on Washington. 

For the last year of his life, Cole suffered from lung cancer, before passing away at the young age of 45 in 1965. Along with his legacy, the singer leaves behind his second wife Maria Cole and their five children, one of whom is popular singer and songwriter Natalie Cole! On March 17th, 2020, a centennial exhibit at the Grammy Museum opened to honor his legacy!