Featured Artist: Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole with band

One of the most influential artists in jazz history.

Who is Nat King Cole?

For Jazz Appreciation Month 2019, we are looking beyond borders to how jazz has influenced the world.

Nat King Cole (1919-1965) was one of the most influential jazz artists of his time. He faced a lot of racial prejudice, but pushed those boundaries to become one of the most successful artists of his time. He was one of the first African Americans to host his own radio show. His 1946 broadcast King Cole Trio Time was the first radio program to be sponsored by a black musician. Cole also went on to host the Nat King Cole Show, being the first African American to host a television series.

Explore Nat King Cole at the Museum

Centennial Year of Nat "King" Cole
Sunday, March 31, 7:30 p.m.
Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza, 1 West
National Museum of American History

The royal moniker “King” has been bestowed on only a small percentage of artists. Nathaniel Adams Cole’s elevation to “King” was earned through his increasing rise to prominence, and his full mastery of the piano and voice. He pushed racial boundaries that sought to prevent him from success. Ranking among the most popular vocalists of his era, Cole eventually hosted his very own TV show in the 1950s. In March, the SJMO will feature guest vocalists Sharon Clark and Steve Washington in their celebration of the centennial year of Nat “King” Cole.


>> See the full calendar of JAM programs at the Museum.


Smithsonian Jazz is made possible through leadership support from:

The LeRoy Neiman Foundation

The Argus Fund

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation
founding donor of the Jazz Appreciation Month endowment

David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn

Goldman Sachs

The John Hammond Performance Series Endowment Fund