Rhythm and Blues


How did this musical artist change Rhythm and Blues forever?

Nat King Cole was one of the first and most notable artists in the Rhythm and Blues genre. He used his smooth voice and piano playing talent to appeal to a huge audiences. He also took strides in conquering racism in the US and was one of the first African American Singers to gain traction. He was also the first African American to host a national television show, The Nat King Cole Show. His music would go on to influence many other artists and singers to this day.
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Keys to Success in the 50s and 60s

Cole was widely noted for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres, becoming a major force in popular music for three decades! He was also a skilled piano player and prolific artist. In total, he produced or was featured in over 30 different albums. The upbeat lyrics of his songs mixed with his legato voice were very happy and provided needed light in dark times.

Roots of Rhythm and Blues

Rhythm and Blues occurred with the migration of southern populations to the north and increased urbanization in the late 20s. This music has its heart at the mixture of civil unrest, increasing secularization, and the development of the radio and technological instruments. Rhythm and Blues was popularized in the form of Boogie piano, which was upbeat and happy. This style inspired a revolution, and music would never be the same again.
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Today, what makes this musical artist continue to be popular?

Cole's music has a natural draw due to his beautiful, smooth voice and talented use of the piano. However, in recent years we have seen many of Nat King Cole's songs in movies and other forms of entertainment. Cole's music has been in many block buster films, such as Catch me if you Can, Watchmen, Groundhog Day, and the Raging Bull. His songs have also been used in hit television shows such as Breaking Bad, Parenthood, and New Girl.

Top Songs

Some of Cole's most popular songs were Mona Lisa (1951), Too Young (1951), Ramblin' Rose (1962), Pretend (1953), A Blossom Fell (1955), and L-O-V-E (1965).

Time Line of Major Career Points

1943- Cole’s first hit single “Straighten Up and Fly Right" was released.

1956- The Nat King Cole Show debuted, making Cole the first African American to host a show on National Television.

1958- Cole flew to Havana, Cuba and released Cole Español, his only album sung entirely in Spanish.

1959- At the second annual Grammy Awards, Cole received a Grammy for his song "Midnight Flier."

1965- Cat Ballou, Nat King Cole's final film, was released.

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