Nat “King” Cole is a famous 20th century jazz musician. His mainstream popularity endures thanks to his unforgettable smooth, mellow vocals. However, it’s his groundbreaking piano style that created a new standard for other jazz pianists, whereas his singing was relatively unimportant in the development of jazz singing. That said, several his songs and covers went on to become standards and highly remembered, like "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "Unforgettable," "Route 66" and "The Christmas Song."
He was also the first African American to host his own variety show,
and one of the earlier black actors and entertainers to headline in television at all - especially without stereotypical behavior. Nat himself was a big supporter of black entertainers of the time and was close with contemporaries like Harry Belafonte and Sammy Davis Jr
, and was outspoken about subjects like performing in front of segregated audiences (which he was against).
Cole’s piano playing inspired a generation of pianists, including Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver and Bill Evans
Provides Examples of:
- Bowties Are Cool: As seen on the page image.
- Jazz: His genre.
- Pop-Culture Isolation: Amongst the general public, Nat King Cole is acknowledged as a great singer, for classics like “Unforgettable”. Amongst musicians it’s understood his real contribution to music was revolutionising jazz piano playing. This is to the extent that his brilliant innovations provided a bridge towards a style of piano playing that fit bebop.
- Projected Man: Was the first late musician to be made into a Projected Man/ Virtual Ghost in a video performance, in a posthumous duet of "Unforgettable" with daughter Natalie Cole.