Smithsonian Collections

Nat King Cole

Image for Nat King Cole
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
Few twentieth-century entertainers rivaled the popularity of singer and pianist Nat “King” Cole. With a performing style rooted firmly in jazz, Cole first gained notice as an innovative pianist when he joined Oscar Moore (guitar) and Wesley Prince (double bass) in 1937 to form what quickly became known as the King Cole Trio. After the ensemble recorded several discs for Decca Records’ “Sepia Series,” Cole teamed up independently with saxophonist Lester Young and bassist Red Calendar to record a memorable jazz LP in 1942. Signed by Capitol Records the following year, Cole and his trio (now with Johnny Miller on double bass) scored a succession of hits, ranging from “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (1943) to “The Christmas Song” (1946), all featuring Cole’s lustrous baritone on vocals. When a solo career beckoned, he responded. In 1950, backed by a full orchestra, Cole recorded “Mona Lisa”—the first in a long line of chart-topping releases.
Pocos artistas del siglo XX rivalizaron en popularidad con el cantante y pianista Nat “King” Cole. Dueño de un estilo enraizado firmemente en el jazz, Cole se dio a conocer primero como un pianista innovador con su King Cole Trio, formado en 1937 junto a Oscar Moore (guitarra) y Wesley Prince (contrabajo). Luego de grabar con el trío varios discos para la serie “Sepia” de Decca Records, Cole grabó independientemente un memorable LP en 1942, junto al saxofonista Lester Young y al bajista Red Calendar. Contratados por Capitol Records al año siguiente, Cole y su trío (ahora con Johnny Miller en el contrabajo) lograron una serie de grandes éxitos, desde “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (1943) hasta “The Christmas Song” (1946), todos en la brillante voz de barítono de Cole. Con el tiempo, Cole respondería al llamado de una carrera en solitario. En 1950, acompañado por una orquesta completa, grabó “Mona Lisa”, la primera de numerosas interpretaciones suyas que ocuparían la cima de las listas de popularidad.
Artist
Herman Leonard, 1923 - 2010
Sitter
Nat "King" Cole, 17 Mar 1919 - 25 Feb 1965
Date
1949 (printed 1998)
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Medium
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 38 × 30.5cm (14 15/16 × 12")
Sheet: 50.5 × 40.5cm (19 7/8 × 15 15/16")
Frame: 71.8 × 56.5 × 3.8 cm (28 1/4 × 22 1/4 × 1 1/2")
Type
Photograph
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
NPG.2014.111.6
Topic
Interior
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Music\Musical instrument\Guitar
Music\Musical instrument\Drum
Music\Musical instrument\Bass
Nat "King" Cole: Male
Nat "King" Cole: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Songwriter
Nat "King" Cole: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Movie
Nat "King" Cole: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Popular
Nat "King" Cole: Performing Arts\Performer\Television Personality
Nat "King" Cole: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Nat "King" Cole: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer\Jazz
Portrait
Place
United States\New York\Kings\New York
Restrictions & Rights
© Herman Leonard Photography LLC