Unforgettable – Irving Gordon (Nat King Cole song) Piano Solo Sheet Music
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Unforgettable Nat King Cole
American singer and pianist, achieved worldwide popularity in the fifties and early sixties thanks to his honeyed voice and a varied repertoire of romantic songs. Considered one of the great innovators of the piano in jazz music, he preferred to focus his career on vocal performance and was the first black artist to be massively accepted by the white audience in his country. In the last period of his life, cut short by cancer of the Lung at age 48, he recorded three albums in Spanish.
1917. Born in Montgomery, Alabama
1943. He signs his first contract with Capitol Records, the company in which he would record all his albums.
1948. He reached the top of the sales charts with Nature Boy.
1951. He recorded Unforgettable, the hallmark of his artistic career.
1958. Releases Señor Cole Español, the first of his three albums in Spanish.
1965. Dies of lung cancer in California.
Nathaniel Adams Coles was born on March 17, 1917 in Montgomery, the state capital of southern and segregationist from Alabama, but he soon changed his residence when emigrating, like hundreds of thousands of blacks, to a more developed north and less rigid in the legal sanction of the difference racial.
At the age of five he moved to live with his family in Chicago, the capital of the state of Illinois, where his father, a Baptist pastor, took charge of a church. The marriage formed by Edward James Coles and Perlina Adams, the daughter of another Baptist clergyman, had thirteen children, only five of whom reached adulthood. Nat, the fourth of them, grew up in a family environment of strict moral norms, but conducive to his natural inclination for music and in particular for the piano.
His mother played the organ in church. His brother Eddie, six years older, started very young as a double bass player in jazz bands. The fifth brother, Ike, was also a professional pianist.
The black ghetto of Chicago, an important pole of attraction for the then emerging jazz music, offered Nat Cole the chance to complete his artistic training. At the age of sixteen, possessed of excellent piano technique and extensive knowledge of jazz, gospel, blues and classical music, he formed his first two groups, a big-band called the Rogues of Rhythm and the quintet Nat Cole and His Royal Dukes.
At eighteen, he recorded an album in his name and magazine he began a tour of different states in the country with Shuffle Along . A little later, after marrying Nadine Robinson, one of the show’s dancers, he moved to Los Angeles, the city where he would reside until the end of his days. There he carved out a solid prestige as a jazz musician in clubs and nightclubs that multiplied when he formed a trio that It presented the originality of doing without the battery.
The Nat Cole Trio, professional name from which the final “s” of his last name disappeared, catapulted him to fame thanks to his refined style of playing the piano, indebted to Earl Hines, one of the greatest names in jazz of all time, and the peculiar rhythmic support provided by Oscar Moore’s guitar and Johnny’s double bass Miller, although the formation included other instrumentalists in later years.
Still with a career exclusively focused on jazz, he signed a contract in 1943 for seven years with Capitol Records, a record company with which he would record all of his albums, but it didn’t take long for him to change course. According to legend, he was a stubborn club patron who he discovered the great possibilities of him as a singer by forcing him to use the voice in the song Sweet Lorraine.
Nat Cole never denied this story, but apparently it was he himself who, after signing the contract, he decided to broaden his interpretive universe, looking for a much broader audience as a singer of popular music than that of jazz records. In any case, the fact It is indisputable that his warm, velvety voice was the key to his enormous success as a crooner or melodic performer and that thanks to it he became the first black artist to be accepted massively by the white public.
Another anecdote, this one with more overtones of credibility, although it could only be a publicity stunt, explains how he got the royal nickname for him soon after making records on a regular basis. On this occasion it was also another spectator who, enthusiastic after listening to him in a club, he made a cardboard crown and placed it on him shouting “You are the King” (You are the King).
From then on he was forever Nat King Cole, a crowd idol whose first big hits They were titled Straighten Up and Fly Right (1944) , -composed by him-, Get your kicks on Route 66 (1945) , The Christmas Song (1945) , -first of his recordings with orchestral accompaniment-, I love you for Sentimental Reasons (1946) and Nature Boy (1948), with which he managed to reach number one on the charts sales.
In 1948, coinciding with the commercial release of Nature Boy, Nat King Cole, who had divorced his first wife shortly before, married Maria Ellington, a young singer born into a family of the educated black bourgeoisie of Massachusetts. With his new wife, who left the stage and played a fundamental role in his career by urging him to pursue ever more ambitious goals, he had five children: Carol (adopted) Natalie, Nat Kelly (adopted) and the twins Casey and Timolin, born three and a half years before he passed away.
Natalie, a famous singer since the eighties, achieved one of her greatest successes by publishing a double album in 1991 with songs performed by her father, including a duet with him, made on an old recording with her real voice, in the song Unforgettable, authentic hallmark of the style that made him known throughout the world: soft, romantic and slightly nostalgic. “I’m a storyteller,” she had said several times, “and when I start to sing it’s like I’m sitting down to tell a story.”
After his wedding to the attractive and refined Maria Ellington, who had come to sing With Duke Ellington, to whom he was not related, he faced serious problems when trying to settle in the mansion he had bought in Hancock Park, an exclusive neighborhood in Los Angeles. There his neighbors organized a campaign against him because of his skin color and things got complicated to such an extent that his house was shot at.
The triumph of a Negro in the United States had then some well-defined limits, but he finally managed to live there, which gives an idea of the social status that he had already obtained. Another racist incident, which occurred in 1956 in Birmingham, the city most populous in his home state of Alabama, made him the target of harsh criticism from black organizations fighting for integration for continuing to sing after being attacked in the stage that he shared with the English big-band Ted Head before an exclusively white audience.
Shy and affable, Nat King Cole never showed much interest in matters beyond his work and gave only nominal support to the cause of the fight for black civil rights, but sometimes he found himself between two fires. For certain sectors of white society, he was a black who had gone too far; and for others in the black population, someone who had ceased to be one of their own.
During the fifties, recording with the accompaniment of great orchestras led by renowned conductors such as Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Ralph Carmichael or Gordon Jenkins, he achieved his consecration with songs like Mona Lisa (1950), Unforgettable (1951), Too Soon (1952), Pretend (1953), Answer me, my Love (1954), Darling, je vous aime beaucoup (1955), Ballerina (1957)…
At the same time, he participated in films of not too great importance, such as St. Louis Blues (1957), in which Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and Mahalia Jackson also participated. He also threw some jazz records, such as After Midnight , which were very well received by those who considered him a great pianist who had failed due to his excessive eagerness to achieve commercial success. In 1956, he became the first black artist to have his own television show, but he was forced to suspend it after ten months of broadcast, despite the good reception of the audience, by the lack of advertisers willing to take the risk of upsetting white buyers.
At the end of the decade, after the powerful irruption of rock and roll in the American music scene, suffered a drop in popularity that prompted him to seek other markets. It was then that he recorded in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and even Japanese.
His three records in Spanish, Señor Cole Español (1958), A mis amigos (1959) and More Cole Español (1962), made in studios in Cuba and Mexico, earned him an enormous popularity in Spain and Latin America. His versions of well-known songs such as Acércate más, Adelita, Las mañanitas, Perfidia, Nadie me ama, Aquellos ojos verdes, Capullito de wallflower, cinnamon skin, or Vaya con Dios made him an idol of the masses.
These and other themes, interpreted with his unmistakable syllable and mellow style, were a benchmark essential romantic in the period of transition towards the musical rupture of the sixties, throughout which rhythmic currents were imposed far removed from their commitment melodic.
Nat King Cole continued to record records and still achieved some important successes on his country, such as Rambling’ Rose (1962) and Those Crazy Lazy Hazy Days of Summer (1963) , but he focused the last period of his life on performances in casinos and nightclubs, in addition to tours of various countries, with massive concerts such as the one in which he brought together 60,000 people in a stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
He also made songs for the soundtracks of the films Blue Gardenia (1961) and Cat Ballou (1965), he undertook some adventure as a producer of musical revues without much success and had the opportunity to sing at the Casablanca before Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, as he had done before Eisenhower.
In 1964, he enjoyed recognized artistic prestige on five continents. She was rich and apparently happy, his marriage had overcome a crisis with the birth of the twins, he had never had any illness, except for certain gastric problems in 1953, but in the last months of his life he was elusive and taciturn in his inner circle.
In early 1965 cancer was discovered in his left lung, which was related to his condition of chain smoker After surgery, the doctors’ forecasts pointed to a recovery, but three weeks later, on February 15, he died at the Californian hospital in Santa Monica. He was 48 years old, had recorded more than 1,000 songs and had sold twelve million records.
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