The younger brother of Nat King Cole and uncle of Natalie Cole, singer/pianist Freddy Cole sounds a great deal like his celebrated sibling, yet has a personality of his own. Cole, whose vocals tend to be a bit darker and slightly rougher, began playing piano at five or six. He was interested in playing football professionally, but decided to pursue a career in music after a hand injury ended his career as an athlete. He debuted on vinyl in 1952 when he recorded the single "The Joke's on Me" for the obscure Chicago-based Topper Records. His next single, "Whispering Grass," on Columbia's OKeh label, was a moderate hit in 1953.
In the '60s and '70s, he developed a small following recording for various small labels. Cole founded his First Shot label in the '80s and went on to record for Sunnyside and LaserLight in the early '90s. A few years later, he signed with Fantasy and enjoyed greater visibility with Grand Freddy.
By 2000, Cole had signed with Telarc and released his first disc for the label, Merry-Go-Round, followed by Rio de Janeiro Blue in 2001. In the Name of Love appeared two years later and featured Cole's approach to soft pop hits made famous by Smokey Robinson, Bonnie Raitt, and Van Morrison, among others. In 2004, GRP reissued Cole's 1964 recording Waiter, Ask the Man to Play the Blues.
In the mid-2000s, Cole returned on the Highnote label for several well-received albums including 2005's This Love of Mine, 2006's Because of You, and 2010's Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B, for which he earned a Grammy nomination.
Over the next decade, Cole continued his productive relationship with Highnote, releasing 2011's Talk to Me featuring guitarist Randy Napoleon, saxophonist Harry Allen, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and others. Two years later, he returned with This and That, followed by Singing the Blues in 2014. In 2016, Cole paid tribute to his late brother, Nat King Cole, with He Was the King. ~ Alex Henderson