Lionel Frederick Cole was born October 15, 1931, the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole’s five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike, and Nat (12 years Freddy’s senior), were all musicians. "I started playing music at five or six," Freddy remembers. "Music was all around me." In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton.
After a possible career with the NFL was shelved due to a 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 continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago.
Freddy moved to New York in 1951 where we studied at the Juilliard School of Music and found himself profoundly influenced by John Lewis, Oscar Peterson, and Teddy Wilson. He got his master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of the Earl Bostic 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. His recording career began in 1952 with his first single, "The Joke’s On Me." In 2001, Freddy received a Grammy Nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album for Merry Go Round.
Freddy remains passionate about performing and continues to tour the United States, Europe, theFar East and South America. "Brazil," he says, "is my second home."
His audiences delight in his musical selections that range from Broadway to the Blues,the golden-oldies of Jermone Kern, Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, to Lionel Ritchie and Stevie Wonder. His voice is so unique and so intimate, that it will reach in, grab your heart and won't let go.
Of his most recent release, In the Name of Love, says producer Jason Miles, " Freddy could sing the phone book and make it sound like it was written for him."