Nat King Cole lecture to be at Trojan Center Thursday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Songs of Nat King Cole will be the subject of a New Harmonies lecture by Daphne Simpkins at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

The Songs of Nat King Cole is one of a series of lectures held in connection with the New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music exhibit at the Cultural Arts Studio in downtown Troy.

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The lecture series is sponsored by the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center, the Alabama Humanities Council, Troy University and the College of Communication and Fine Arts.

Cole was born in Montgomery but moved to Chicago with his family when he was about five years old.

He gained fame as a jazz pianist and singer. His music is still enjoyed today mainly through the talents of his daughter, Natalie, who has re-released his music.

Daphne Simpkins is an active member of the speaker’s bureau sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation and also teaches writing at Auburn University.

She has published two books, a biography for children about Nat King Cole titled “Nat King Cole: An Unforgettable Life of Music” and a memoir, “The Long Good Night.”

“Nat King Cole was a natural choice for the lecture series because he is from the South, from Alabama, and he continues to be an influence in the world of jazz,” said Shadron Graham, Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center administrative assistant.

“Daphne Simpkins has studied Nat King Cole’s music and his life and will provide great insight into both the man and his music.”

Simpkins has written about life in the South for the past 20 years and many of these essays have appeared in a variety of periodicals but most often in “The Chicago Tribune.”

For the past two years, she has been the biographer of Mildred Budge, a fictional character she created to honor the sensible and heroic Southern women who are her neighbors and friends.