“Gorgeous autumnal baritone, expressive phrasing and pitch-perfect feel for jazz standards, pop tunes and love ballads.” – People Magazine
“Freddy has an impeccable sense of swing… he is, overall, the most maturely expressive male jazz singer of his generation, if not the best alive.” – The New York Times
Lionel Frederick Cole was born the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole’s five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (twelve years Freddy’s senior) were all musicians taught by their mother. Though Freddy was born in Chicago, he is now a 35-year native son and international celebrity of Atlanta.
“I started playing piano at five or six,” Freddy recalls. “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,” Freddy recalls. “I learned so much from just watching and being around him.” After a possible career with the NFL was shelved due to a severe football related hand injury, he began playing and singing in Chicago clubs as a teenager. Although he was ready to hit the road at 18, his mother intervened and he continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago.
Freddy moved to New York in 1951, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and found himself profoundly influenced by John Lewis, Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson. He got a Master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of Earl Bostic’s band that also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson.
It was back in New York that Freddy successfully laid the groundwork for a career that continues to flourish to this day. He developed a vast repertoire of songs in Manhattan bistros and concurrently began to supplement his live performances with television and radio commercial work.
Freddy recorded several albums for European and English co