March 17, 1919
Nat “King” Cole, one of the biggest stars in pop music during the 1940s and ‘50s, was born in Montgomery. After his family moved to Chicago, the young Cole was drawn to that’s city’s lively music scene and he was exposed to some of the influential artists of the day, including Louis Armstrong. After marrying, Cole and his wife moved to Los Angeles, and he found early success there as a singer-pianist leading a jazz trio. He hit it big as a vocalist in 1943 with the song, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” which ignited both music and film stardom. Huge hits such as “Mona Lisa” and “Unforgettable” followed and in 1956 he became the first African-American to host a television network variety show. In the 1960s Cole suffered significant financial losses in a failed Broadway show, and then was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in 1965.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Nat “King” Cole grew up in the jazz scene of Chicago during the Great Depression. Cole was one of the most popular singers of the 1940s and 1950s. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Alabama Music Hall of Fame)
In his only leading film role, jazz artist Nat “King” Cole portrayed “Father of the Blues” W. C. Handy in the 1958 film St. Louis Blues, with costars and fellow musicians Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, and Eartha Kitt. This is an image of one of the movie’s original posters. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Alabama Music Hall of Fame)
Montgomery native Nathaniel Adams Coles (1919-1965), known to the world as Nat “King” Cole, was a legendary jazz and pop musician. He was the first African American to host his own television show and appeared in a number of films. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Alabama Music Hall of Fame)
Jazz crooner Nat “King” Cole and “Father of the Blues” W. C. Handy. In 1958, Cole played fellow Alabama native Handy in the film St. Louis Blues, based on Handy’s life and career and named after his most famous composition. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Alabama Music Hall of Fame)
Portrait of Nat King Cole, c. 1947. (Library of Congress, Wikipedia)
Famed singer, composer, and musician Nat “King” Cole was born in this home in Montgomery, Montgomery County, on March 17, 1919. In 2000, the home was relocated to the campus of Alabama State University, also in Montgomery, and is undergoing restorations. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Alabama State University)
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