100 Years of Nat King Cole

Mar 14, 2019

By Gene Stevens

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In the endless debates over ‘greatest singer of all time’, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Aretha Franklin tops. Others list Frank Sinatra or Elvis, Ray Charles or John Lennon, or perhaps Freddie Mercury of Queen. But there’s another voice many offer for consideration – as I do too – Nat King Cole. I’d suggest he’s certainly in the top ten. Nat King Cole was born 100 years ago this Sunday – March 17th 1919 – and I’m featuring 12 of his biggest and best songs. That’s just scratching the surface, of course. Cole had over 120 charting Billboard hits in a career from the post big-band era of the mid-40s through rock’n’roll, into the mid-60s. Very few artists can claim to be members of the Jazz Hall of Fame, the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Cole was a pioneering jazz pianist-turned-singer, the first African-American to host his own TV show, and decades after his death, his image was among the first to be featured in a virtual duet – the Grammy sweeping ‘Unforgettable’ with his daughter Natalie.

I’m also featuring ‘the greatest groups of our time’ in alphabetical order through 2019, bringing us to The Doobie Brothers, and in the Vintage Canadiana companion piece, we arrive at Blue Rodeo. Those of a certain ‘vintage’ who frequented the Toronto nightclubs scene of the 1960s, will recall Ray Hutchinson – one-time lead vocalist with The Beau-Marks. Ray’s upcoming birthday inspires me to play you some of his best songs – many you may not have heard in years. Finally – it’s St.Patrick’s Day – so I’ll raise a ‘whiskey on a Sunday’ to the ‘orange and the green’ with a few tunes by the Irish Rovers.

I hope you’ll join me for a truly varied program this Sunday – March 17th – for ‘Vintage Favourites’ from 2:00 to 4:30. Cheers.

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