American Legends: The Life of Nat King Cole
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*Includes pictures *Includes Cole's quotes *Includes a bibliography for further reading *Includes a table of contents “:If I could read it, I could play it.”: –: Nat King Cole A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history’:s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors’: American Legends series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of America’:s most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known. Among the most recognizable and iconic vocal artists known to American society from the mid-twentieth to the twenty-first century, baritone Nat King Cole is indelible in the nation’:s consciousness for such hits as “:Mona Lisa”: and “:Ramblin’: Rose”: as well as for his rendition of Mel Tormé:’:s famous “:Christmas Song,”: with the opening line known to millions of American households, “:Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”: Cole is almost synonymous with the Christmas holiday season. His entire career, following an early start as a first-rate pianist, includes a consistent string of similar hits, including: “:Route 66,”: “:Sweet Lorraine,”: “:(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons,”: “:Nature Boy,”: “:Too Young,”: “:Answer Me,”: “:Walkin’: My Baby Back Home,”: “:Straighten Up and Fly Right,”: “:Lush Life,”: “:Those Hazy Lazy Crazy Days of Summer,”: “:People,”: “:That Sunday That Summer,”: “:Dear Lonely Hearts, “:L-O-V-E,”: and “:Unforgettable.”: His gentle baritone sound, elegant phrasing, and crystal-clear enunciation are unmistakable, and have remained as a beloved fixture in America’:s collective ear for well over half a century. On the other hand, Cole, so well-known for just a fraction of his contribution to 20th century music, is one of the most anonymous and unexplored artists in the lexicon of great pop and jazz figures known to American and European audiences. Jazz devotees may know that, in his early years as a jazz pianist, he both studied with and influenced the greatest players, in his generation and those that followed. Those who regularly listen to the blues will find its distinct presence in his playing and can point to Cole’:s motion picture roles, one of which was the portrayal of the “:Father of the Blues”: himself, W.C. Handy. For those who love his singing, examples exist in multiple genres, and his image as a stage personality and host were smooth, unruffled, and elegant, putting him in good stead with others of his kind, such as Bing Crosby. And finally, despite his general bent toward tolerance and a non-violent response toward abuse, Cole’:s professional and personal stories are interwoven into the urge toward equal civil rights for African-Americans in the United States. Much like other famous singers, such as Marian Anderson, he fought ignorance and injustice, in part, by rising above it and providing a model for civilized behavior, both as a public figure and as an international musician. A professional performer who has continued to sell millions of records well past the date of his death, Nat King Cole also left a legacy, not only of an enormous body of recorded work, but in the career of his famous daughter, Natalie Cole. The United States feels nostalgia for Nat King Cole that it feels for few other artists, one that is easily triggered by the playing of any number of hits recorded over several decades. The strong strain of pianistic and vocal skills can be found in his “:students”: of the following generation, from pianist Oscar Peterson to singers George Benson and Johnny Mathis. American Legends: The Life of Nat King Cole looks at the life and legacy of one of America’:s most famous musicians. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about Nat King Cole like never before, in no time at all.