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Freddy Cole plays at Averitt Center Friday
Freddy Cole
Freddy Cole performs in this undated file photo. The jazz musician will perform at the Averitt Center Friday at 7:30 p.m. - photo by Special
    Walk through the Main Gallery of the Averitt Center and you may hear jazz love songs being crooned that’s somewhat reminiscent of the late Nat King Cole. Only this voice evokes the sultry feel of black velvet. Freddy Cole is the late Nat’s younger brother and has his own claim to fame.
    He will perform tonight at 7:30 at the Emma Kelly Theater.
    Stuart Broomer writes, “Freddy Cole is a songwriter's dream, able to impart his own distinct personality to a song while remaining faithful to its lyric and melody. He surrounds a song with the warm presence of his voice, but within that breathy glow, he's capable of the subtlest inflection, from irony to wary satisfaction and the most wistful sense of loss.”
    Jazz aficionados and romantics alike have enjoyed this musician who hails from a famous musical family for decades.
    "I started playing piano at five or six," Cole said. "Music was all around me."
    In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence.
    "He was a fantastic entertainer," Cole said. "I learned so much from just watching and being around him."
    While Cole was schooled in musical instruction at the Juilliard School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of an Earl Bostic band that also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson, he has earned a plethora of awards for his own accomplishments.
    He is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, earned a nomination for Jazz Vocalist of the Year, named to the Steinway Artist Roster, and inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.
    A resident of Atlanta since 1972, Cole currently leads a band made up of himself, guitarist Randy Napoleon, drummer Curtis Boyd and bassist Elias Bailey that regularly tours the U.S., Europe, the Far East and South America. Cole has been a recording artist since 1952, when his first single, "The Joke's on Me," was released on an obscure Chicago-based label.
    Cole recorded several albums for European and English companies during the 1970s that helped him develop a loyal overseas following.
    Cole believes that becoming an international favorite made him "widen my scope a little bit." He developed a stand-up act, a better rapport with audiences, and learned to sing in other languages.
    "It made me much more of a performer," he said. "I learned how to sing in other languages. I learned how to be a performer, not just a singer or a piano player."
    Tickets may be purchased by calling 912-212-ARTS or by visiting the Box Office in the Emma Kelly Theater. Adult reserved seat tickets are $27 and youth tickets are $10. Staff, faculty, and students at Ogeechee Technical College may receive a 15 percent discount. Also, adult groups of 10 or more may receive a 15 percent discount.
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