Her father was a trailblazer in music, deemed “one of the most durable figures in American popular music.” Though he did not survive to see his daughter follow in his same footsteps with her own solo career, it is no denying that Nat King Cole was a great contributor to his daughter’s rise to musical success.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1950 to singers Nat King Cole and Maria Cole, Natalie was surrounded by music from birth. At just 6 years old, she recorded “I’m Good Will, Your Christmas Spirit” with her father, and at 11, she started performing around the community. Upon her father’s death in 1965, the family relocated to Massachusetts, where she later enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before transferring to the University of Southern California, pledging the Upsilon Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She would then transfer back to the University of Massachusetts, where she later earned her bachelor’s in 1972.
Despite being the daughter of a vocal legend, Natalie Cole has managed to carve out her own successful jazz musical career, selling millions of albums worldwide. Throughout the decades, she has continued to develop as an artist, yet never straying too far from her legendary father’s legacy.WEBSITE
A Charlotte, North Carolina native, Anthony Hamilton grew up surrounded by various musical influences. With a start in his church choir, he transitioned as a teen into performing solo at various nightclubs and talent shows.
Throughout the course of his singing career, Hamilton has paved his own way to fame, having received 12 Grammy Award nominations to date. With comparisons to Bill Withers and Bobby Womack, Anthony Hamilton has established himself as one of the most soulful vocalists in Neo soul. His rich, gravely vocal tone resonates with fans all over the world.WEBSITE
Aaron Parks began playing the piano at a young age and enrolled in an early entrance program at the University of Washington at 14 years old. Later, Aaron joined veteran trumpeter, Terence Blanchard, where he gained the public’s attention. He contributed to the Grammy Award-winning A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina) with Blanchard. Since then, he has continued collaborating with various artists, including playing with the quartet, James Farm. Recently, he toured around Japan and released an album, Alive in Japan.
Born in New Zealand, Matt Penman moved to the United States to attend Berklee College of Music. Since moving to New York, Matt has maintained a performing, recording, and teaching schedule as a high-demand bassist. As a teacher, Matt has led workshops around Europe and been an Artist-in-Residence at the Brubeck Institute in California. He has also been a member of the James Farm quartet since its beginning in 2009.
Nate Smith was born in Chesapeake, Virginia, and started playing the drums and the piano at eleven. While in college, he was recruited by the jazz singer, Betty Carter, for her Jazz Ahead program. In 2003, he joined his Grammy Award-winning Quintet and Big Band, and in 2009, he formed his own production company, Waterbaby Music, Inc. In the October 2012, he was featured in an issue of Modern Drummer Magazine. Recently, he became an Artist-In-Residence at his alma mater James Madison University.
Born Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in 1944, Pat was first exposed to jazz through his father. He began playing guitar when he was twelve years old and left school in tenth grade to devote himself to music. Martino became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars like Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Darin. His reputation soon spread among other jazz players, and he was recruited by bandleader Lloyd Price to play hits such as Stagger Lee on-stage with musicians like Slide Hampton and Red Holloway. Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the “soul jazz” played by many. Martino has taken several breaks from his career due to illness within his family and with himself, but today, Martino lives in Philadelphia again and continues to grow as a straight-ahead/Latin jazz musician.WEBSITE
Roberson is a multitalented Neo soul vocalist, writer, and producer in the musical industry. He subsequently returned to Howard University to complete his studies in Musical Theatre. After performing in a number of musicals and plays, he landed a songwriting deal through the EMI label, and went on to collaborate with Philadelphia-based artists such as Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, and most extensively, DJ Jazzy Jeff. Roberson has since been nominated for two Grammys in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category and was nominated for two songs from his 2009 album Music Fan First: “A Tale of Two” in 2010 and “Still” in the same category a year later.
Born in Harvey, Illinois, she grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Tina Turner, the Dells, and Mavis Staples. She performed in local bands and sang in her church choir at Greater Christian Unity, and later worked in classical and gospel choirs as well as in jazz ensembles at Drake University and Illinois State University, where she majored in music. Johnson counts on her own honesty and real-life experiences to produce compelling music that transcends both genres and audiences alike. She is also currently a star on TV One’s hit reality series R&B Divas.
Rahsaan grew up as a child star portraying “The Kid” role in a hit 1980s television series called Kids Incorporated. He later transitioned into the musical industry by becoming a backup vocalist for several artists. He then on ventured out to start his solo Neo soul career. Patterson eventually signed with MCA Records and released his self-titled debut album in 1997. After a hiatus from the performance spotlight, he released After Hours in August of 2005 and Wines & Spirits in September 2007. These two albums placed him near—or at—the top of the R&B underground. The sprawling Bleuphoria, issued nearly four years later, has proven to be his most eclectic and creatively ambitious album to date.
Nichole Stephens, born in Akron, Ohio, started her musical journey to the concert halls of LA and Italy when she started dancing and singing at three years old. By the time she arrived at the Akron School of Performing Arts, she regularly performed and traveled under her signature smooth jazz sound. Nichole writes and records her own music and has collaborated with a variety of other artists. Her performances and releases throughout the years are inspired by a belief that the power of music can inspire, motivate and bring positive vibes to the world. She is currently working on an inspirational compilation and donates to foundations focused on helping caregivers of autistic family members.WEBSITE