Lexy Jenson

Written by Lexy Jenson

Modified & Updated: 30 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Source: Filmforum.org

Nat King Cole is a legendary figure in the world of music. With his velvety smooth voice, unparalleled talent, and charming charisma, he captivated audiences all around the globe. Born on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama, Cole’s journey from a humble background to becoming one of the most successful and influential musicians of his time is truly remarkable.

In this article, we will take a closer look at 18 fascinating facts about Nat King Cole. From his early struggles and breakthroughs to his iconic achievements and lasting legacy, each fact sheds light on the life and career of this musical genius. So, get ready to dive into the intriguing world of Nat King Cole and discover some lesser-known aspects of his extraordinary journey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Nat King Cole, a musical pioneer, broke racial barriers and inspired millions with his smooth voice and piano skills. His timeless music continues to resonate across generations, leaving an enduring legacy.
  • Nat King Cole’s impact on music history is undeniable. From hosting a groundbreaking TV show to advocating for civil rights, his talent and influence transcend time, inspiring artists and audiences worldwide.
Table of Contents

Nat King Cole was born on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Nat King Cole, one of the most acclaimed and influential musicians of the 20th century, was born on March 17, 1919, in Montgomery, Alabama. His birth name was Nathaniel Adams Cole, but he later adopted the nickname “Nat.

He was a talented pianist from a young age.

Even as a child, Cole showed immense musical talent. He began learning to play the piano at the age of four and went on to become a virtuoso pianist.

Nat King Cole became the first African American to host a nationwide television show.

In 1956, Cole made history by becoming the first African American to host his own television show, “The Nat King Cole Show.” This groundbreaking achievement helped pave the way for other African American entertainers in the industry.

His smooth baritone voice captivated millions.

Known for his velvety smooth voice, Cole’s baritone vocals captivated audiences around the world. His unique vocal style blended jazz, pop, and R&B, creating a sound that was distinctly his own.

He recorded over 150 chart-topping songs.

Cole’s discography boasts an impressive collection of hit songs. With over 150 chart-topping tracks, including classics like “Unforgettable” and “Mona Lisa,” he cemented his status as a musical legend.

Nat King Cole was a civil rights activist.

Cole used his platform to advocate for civil rights and equality. Despite facing discrimination and racial barriers throughout his career, he remained committed to fighting for social justice.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In recognition of his immense impact on popular music, Cole was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in His enduring legacy continues to inspire generations of musicians.

Cole sold over 50 million records worldwide.

With his captivating vocals and timeless hits, Cole amassed a massive fanbase globally. He sold over 50 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of his time.

He was a multi-talented artist.

In addition to his musical talents, Cole also pursued acting and appeared in several films and television shows. He showcased his versatility and charisma across various mediums.

Nat King Cole broke racial barriers in the music industry.

Cole’s success in the predominantly white music industry was groundbreaking. He shattered racial barriers and opened doors for future generations of African American artists.

He received numerous prestigious awards.

Cole’s contributions to music were recognized with numerous awards and accolades. He received multiple Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Cole collaborated with renowned musicians.

Throughout his career, Cole collaborated with a wide range of talented musicians, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong. These collaborations produced unforgettable musical moments.

His music continues to inspire new generations.

Cole’s timeless music has transcended generations, continuing to inspire artists across various genres. His influence can be heard in the works of contemporary artists who draw inspiration from his iconic style.

Nat King Cole was a pioneer for crossover success.

Cole’s ability to attract a diverse audience was remarkable. He achieved widespread popularity among both black and white listeners, breaking down barriers and paving the way for future crossover artists.

He was a skilled jazz pianist.

While Cole is primarily known for his vocal talents, he was also an accomplished jazz pianist. His skill on the piano added depth and richness to his musical compositions.

Cole was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1991, Cole was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the music industry. His impact and legacy are firmly ingrained in musical history.

He was a devoted family man.

Despite his demanding career, Cole prioritized his family. He was a loving husband to Maria Cole and a dedicated father to his five children, creating a strong foundation amidst the pressures of fame.

Nat King Cole’s music remains iconic.

Decades after his passing, Nat King Cole’s music continues to resonate with audiences around the world. His contributions to the music industry are celebrated and cherished, ensuring his legacy will endure for generations to come.


Nat King Cole was a legendary musician and trailblazer in the world of music. Through his smooth vocals, impeccable piano skills, and charismatic stage presence, he left an indelible mark on the music industry. From his iconic hits like “Unforgettable” and “Mona Lisa” to his influential role as the first African American to host a national television show, Cole’s impact is timeless.

His ability to seamlessly blend various genres, from jazz and pop to R&B and gospel, showcased his versatility as an artist. Not only did he achieve great success as a solo artist, but he also led the famous jazz trio, The Nat King Cole Trio, which influenced countless musicians.

With his velvety voice and unparalleled talent, Nat King Cole continues to captivate audiences to this day. His enduring legacy serves as a testament to his immense contribution to the world of music.


Q: What were some of Nat King Cole’s most famous songs?

A: Nat King Cole had many popular songs, including “Unforgettable,” “Mona Lisa,” “L-O-V-E,” “Nature Boy,” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).

Q: Was Nat King Cole recognized for his talent during his lifetime?

A: Yes, Nat King Cole received numerous accolades throughout his career. He won multiple Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Q: Did Nat King Cole face any challenges as an African American artist during his time?

A: Yes, despite his immense talent, Nat King Cole faced racial discrimination and segregation during his career. He encountered challenges while touring and performing in certain venues.

Q: What is Nat King Cole’s most iconic contribution to the music industry?

A: Nat King Cole was the first African American to host a nationally televised variety show, “The Nat King Cole Show.” His pioneering role helped break down racial barriers in the entertainment industry.

Q: Is Nat King Cole still influential in modern music?

A: Absolutely, Nat King Cole’s influence can be heard in the work of many contemporary artists. His timeless music and unique style continue to inspire musicians across various genres.

Nat King Cole's incredible life story captivates music lovers worldwide. His daughter, Natalie Cole, also left an indelible mark on the music industry. Explore more about her remarkable journey and learn lesser-known facts that showcase her talent, resilience, and enduring legacy. Delving into the lives of these iconic figures promises a fascinating experience for readers eager to understand their impact on music history.

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