George Benson Releases 'Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole'
... by Lois GilbertShare this:Google +1FacebookTwitterPinterestPrintMoreEmailDiggLinkedInRedditTumblrStumbleUpon *About four years ago, I had the privilege of attending a rehearsal and performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival of George Benson's "Tribute to Nat King Cole
." I knew immediately that this music needed to be captured on record. George told me at the time, just performing with a full orchestra, doing the music of Nat King Cole
was "unforgettable," and recording it, would be a dream come true. Now, four years later, George Benson's dream has become a reality with the release of: Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole
. This recording is one of the most meaningful of Benson's career and is a testament to the spirit of Cole's timeless body of work. Benson's heartfelt renditions of some of Cole's greatest songs with Nelson Riddle arrangements and the 42-piece Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra are complemented by duets with Tony Award winner Idina Menzel and rising star Judith Hill, along with a special collaboration with Wynton Marsalis. Speaking on recording the album Benson says, "I felt every moment of it. You can't put together a record like this without putting your heart into it. I got that from Nat King Cole
. He put his heart into everything he did." The careers of Benson and Cole share a similar arc, both establishing themselves first as highly respected instrumentalists before skyrocketing to crossover success once they began sharing their unforgettable voices with the world. Better known as a jazz pianist first, Nat King Cole
's major breakthrough came in 1943 when he added his melting baritone voice to "Straighten Up and Fly Right," coincidentally the same year of George Benson's birth. Benson, who had a well-established career as one of the world's ... [ read more ]
Greg Grease Gets No Realer on "Black King Cole" (MP3)
... order to know who we truly are and interpret how we feel about certain situations, we must first know where we come from. It's the feel good celebration of who we are despite what has happened to us, we're still here going strong and getting stronger." You can purchase the "Black King Cole
" single now on iTunes, and sample the track after the jump, courtesy of Okayplayer. *The Black King Cole
EP will release (Sound Verite Records/Riverlife Dry Goods) digitally via iTunes on May 21st as well as on a limited edition 12" vinyl on May 26th, coinciding with his performance at Rhymesayers Entertainment's ... [ read more ]
Jazzy In July: Caesar Jazz Balladeer's Tribute to Nat 'King' Cole
... *Caesar Jazz Balladeer delivers exquisite renditions in four languages that have left audiences around the world in a trance. He has often been compared to the great Nat "King" Cole
. Last month Caesar completed his anticipated debut album, A Tribute to Nat "King" Cole at Capitol Studios in Studio A, using the same microphone and Steinway piano that Nat "King" Cole and Frank Sinatra used in the 1950′s. Caesar recorded with two of the best engineers in the world, 30 year Capitol vet and 3 time Grammy winner Charlie Paakkari, and Al Schmitt who has won 21 Grammy Awards, and has served as Producer/Engineer on over 150 Gold and Platinum albums including Natalie Cole's Unforgettable album featuring Nat "King" Cole
. Yes, Caesar is in good company! Currently Caesar is seeking the public's support to help complete the mastering of the project in time for Grammy consideration. Fans can donate via Kickstarter and assist Caesar in adding his spin on the legacy of the late Mr. Cole, whose widow (Maria Cole) has now also passed away as of July 11, 2012. Caesar extends love to the entire Nat Cole family and wishes to honor his memory and make history of his own with a classic, all star album featuring Peter White, Eric Bloom, John Anter and more. Caesar's deadline is August 5th.Click to make a pledge, read Caesar's story, listen to his music and see pictures of his recording session at Capitol Studios in Studio A http://kck.st/KYRwis Do you like this story? Jazzy In July: Caesar Jazz Balladeer's Tribute to Nat 'King' Cole
... [ read more ]
Nat King Cole (March 17, 1919 - February 15, 1965)
Artistfacts®: You can leave comments about the artist/band at the bottom of the page.
Born Nathaniel Adams Cole in Montgomery, Alabama, his father was a Baptist minister and an influential leader in the segregated black community. His mother was the choir director for his father's church and introduced piano music to Nat when he was 4 years old. He began learning to play by ear even before he learned to read. At the age of 12, to further his already broad knowledge of the instrument, he began taking classical piano lessons.
While growing up in the black communities of Chicago, Cole was introduced to Jazz music. His passion for the free form style that it presented was influential and at 15, Cole quit school to pursue a career as a jazz pianist. His first professional experience as a musician came when he was asked to join the jazz style revival show "Shuffle Along." When the touring show folded while in Los Angeles, Cole began working at a night club there called the Century Club. It was at this time that one of the club's managers began referring to him as "King" Cole.
At the age of 20 Cole started a jazz trio with two musician friends, Oscar Moore and Wesley Prince. The trio produced a unique sound with the absence of a drummer and was made up of only three instruments, piano, rhythm guitar, and bass. Cole soon became the recognized leader when he added vocals to the group's instrumental music. Now known as the King Cole Trio they found their first success with the song "Straighten Up and Fly Right" released by Capitol Records. The song was co-written by Cole and was based on a sermon he had heard his father give when he was a child. It became a hit and launched Cole's career as a popular singer around the country.
In 1946, Cole released "The Christmas Song
" and showcased the soft, melodic side of his vocal abilities that were rarely heard before that point. "The Christmas Song" became a seasonal hit for Cole and began his transition from Jazz musician and front man to solo artist.
Cole's release of the song "Mona Lisa
" in 1950 became his first #1 hit even though he didn't care for the song and was opposed to releasing it as a single. It was one of his first recordings to feature a full background orchestra. The combination of Cole's voice and a studio orchestra became a production template that he utilized frequently for the rest of his career.
In 1951 Cole released his signature song "Unforgettable
" and it reached #12 on the popular music charts. His daughter Natalie re-released the song as a duet 40 years later. Natalie Cole's version featured her father's original vocals from the 1951 release along with her own voice overdubbed into the song so that it could be produced into a new duet.
Cole's talent and popularity during the 1950s ushered in a period of increased exposure for minority entertainers. In 1956 he became the first black man in American television history to host his own show: The Nat "King" Cole Show. He understood the importance of the event and described his feelings about the show during an interview that year:
"Negroes have been exposed to many single appearances but have not been given a chance to do a regular show before now. I've been waging a personal campaign, aiming at a show of this kind. I hit a few snags here and there but I didn't give up the fight. It could be a turning point so that Negroes may be featured regularly on television."
She show was canceled the following year, with Cole stating, "Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark." The show was popular with viewers but had trouble attracting advertisers.
In 1957 Cole appeared in the motion picture China Gate. He also sang "Three Coins in a Fountain" for the movie's opening credits. He was paid $5,000 for acting in the film and $75,000 for the opening song.
Throughout his life, Cole faced adversity and inequality as a black performer in the entertainment industry. When he performed on TV his face was lightened with make-up to reduce the dark color of his skin. It was believed by many producers at the time that "whitening" the face of black performers made them more acceptable to white audiences.
He vowed to never return to the American south after being attacked while on stage in Birmingham, Alabama, and he never did. When he purchased a home in an all white neighborhood in Beverly Hills his neighbors asked him to leave and made life uncomfortable for the Cole family, but he refused to move.
Cole was a heavy smoker throughout his life and often smoked in excess of three packs a day. He believed that smoking helped to keep his singing voice low. The habit caused him to develop lung cancer, and he died on February 15, 1965.
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