Artist Profiles - Vocalist Nat King Cole

Nathaniel Adams Coles, known professionally as Nat King Cole, was a musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres.

Cole was born was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in March, 1919. He first learned to play the piano around the age of four. Earl Hines, a leader of modern jazz, was one of Cole's biggest inspirations. At 15, he dropped out of school to become a jazz pianist full time.

Cole joined with his brother Eddie for a time, which led to his first professional recordings in 1936. Cole started to put together what would become the King Cole Trio.The group landed on the charts in 1943 with "That Ain't Right," and "Straighten Up and Fly Right,""The Christmas Song," and  "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons." As a soloist, he scored hits with such songs as "Nature Boy," "Mona Lisa," "Too Young," and "Unforgettable." Cole made television history in 1956 when he became the first African-American to host his own national program "The Nat "King" Cole Show."

Nat King Cole died of lung cancer in February, 1965.