Capitol Studios, Hollywood, Calif., recently served as the site of content sessions for two projects celebrating the legendary Nat “King” Cole.
First, Dulé Hill (Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk; The West Wing; Psych) filmed promotional content at Capitol Studios for Instagram and other social media outlets, preparing for Geffen Playhouse’s acclaimed stage musical Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole, starring Hill as Cole. On Instagram, Hill posted a clip of himself at Capitol Studios, tap dancing and singing as he rehearsed a number alongside the production’s music director/conductor David Witham.
The play made its West Coast premiere at Geffen Playhouse and ran through March 24. Geffen Playhouse marked Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday with a special performance on March 17 serving as a fundraiser that benefits the Nat King Cole Generation Hope Charity, Geffen Playhouse’s education and community engagement programs, and the Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble.
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In his Instagram post, Hill wrote, “When you end up at Capitol Records, ‘The House That Nat King Cole Built,’ in the studio where Nat King Cole recorded, next to the piano that Nat King Cole used, sometimes you just have to say a prayer and dance. This moment will forever be an ‘Unforgettable’ experience to me.”
Following Dulé’s session, Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter arrived to record a “virtual duet” of “The Girl From Ipanema,” adding his own vocals to those originally recorded by Cole (in the mode of Natalie Cole’s version of “Unforgettable,” recorded in the ‘90s). The new duet is featured on a brand new collection, Ultimate Nat King Cole, which was released by Capitol/UMe on March 15.
Nat “King” Cole is a major artist in Capitol Studios’ own legacy. Capitol Records signed Nat to an exclusive contract when he was just 24 years old, and he went on to record nearly 700 songs, including 150 singles that made the Billboard charts. Classic favorites like “Unforgettable,” “L-O-V-E,” “Mona Lisa,” “The Christmas Song” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” were all recorded at Capitol Records. Capitol Studios VP/studio manager Paula Salvatore states, “Much of Cole’s era-defining work was recorded within these very walls, so it’s appropriate that our facility could serve as a workspace for this new project to come to fruition.”