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Nat King Cole

2014 Legend Award




Nat “King” Cole‘s timeless music has warmed the hearts of fans for over half a century with his most identifiable and memorable voice in American music. In 1937, Nat started his musical career by playing piano and leading the King Cole Trio. This drummerless trio excelled at improvisational interplay and had a number of hits including, "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and "Straighten Up and Fly Right". In 1946, Cole transformed from jumpin’ jive to pop balladry and began his successful “hit parade.” The string of chart-topping songs started with "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" and the classic remake of Mel Torme’s "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)". During his recording career, Cole recorded more than 150 charting singles on Billboard’s Pop, R&B and Country charts. In 1956, Cole hosted The Nat King Cole Show and made history by becoming the first African-American to host a national network television series. He also appeared in a number of other television shows and feature films, like St. Louis Blues and Cat Ballou. In the early 1990s, Natalie Cole, Nat’s daughter, added her vocals to the Unforgettable soundtrack to create a duet that won seven Grammy Awards. Nat King Cole was honored in 1990 with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


Natalie Cole accepted the 2014 Songbook Hall of Fame Legend Award on behalf of her father. In celebration of his induction, Nat King Cole was honored with a tribute performance by Denzal Sinclaire.


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