Marie Ellington

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Marie Hawkins Ellington , nee Maria Hawkins , widowed Maria Hawkins Cole , (born August 1, 1922 in Boston , Massachusetts , † July 10, 2012 in Boca Raton , Florida ) was an American jazz singer .


Hawkins came from an elite African American family in Boston. Like her sisters, she was raised by her aunt Charlotte Hawkins Brown , who founded the Palmer Memorial Institute, North Carolina's first preparatory school for African Americans, and who headed it. Marie Hawkins attended this school in Sedalia . The elegant young woman married the bomber pilot Spurgeon Ellington in 1943, who died in World War II in October of the same year . Between 1943 and 1945 she sang with Duke Ellington , with whom she was not related by marriage.

In 1948 she married Nat King Cole , whom she met in 1946 at a show at the Zanzibar Club in Los Angeles . The daughter Natalie Cole , who was born in 1950 and became a well-known singer herself, and the twins Timolin and Casey, who were born in September 1961, come from the marriage with Cole . In the mid-1950s, the couple adopted Marie Ellington's sister's children after both parents died. Adopted daughter Carol later became an actress; Adopted son Nat Kelly died early. In order to take care of the larger household, she could no longer go on tour with Cole or pursue her own career in a targeted manner, as in the beginning. According to Nat King Cole biographer Daniel Mark Epstein, she and Nat also withstood the hostility of white neighbors who did not want Afro-Americans to live in Beverly Hills ' posh Hancock Park neighborhood .

In 1969, four years after Cole's death, the widow had a third marriage with Gary DeVore, which divorced in 1976. She died in a nursing home on July 10, 2012 at the age of 89 after suffering from cancer for a short time.


Hawkins, who shared the vocal parts with Joya Sherrill in 1945 , was preferred by Ellington when a hymnically radiant voice was required, for example in the "Mauve" segment of "Black, Brown and Beige". Compared to the singing of her predecessor Betty Roche , she sang with far less blues coloring. Because of the recording ban , their activities with the Ellingtonband are poorly documented; it can be heard in particular on V-discs and on the recordings from Carnegie Hall, which were only released in 1977 .

Occasionally she performed with Nat King Cole's Trio from 1947 on. In 1949 she was also involved in his recordings as a guest. In 1954 a long-playing record with standards appeared, on which she accompanied the orchestra of Billy Vaughn: Duke Ellington welcomed this record almost enthusiastically:

“I waited a long time to hear you sing again, and I'm glad you decided to record. I'm sure a whole lot of people will hear this album you and Billy Baughn made and will suddenly discover what I've known all the time - that you are not only behind the throne - you're sitting on it. Keep the audience in the hollow of your hand as your personal empire. "

“I waited a long time to hear you sing again and I'm glad you decided to record. I'm sure that a lot of people are listening to this album that you and Billy Vaughn made, that they suddenly realize what I have known all these years: that you are not behind the throne, you are sitting on it. Hold the audience in your hands as your personal realm. "

- Duke Ellington

In 1957 she also appeared on the television show Coles, where she sang a duet with him. She released another record in 1966 on Capitol Records .

In 1971 she published her personally colored biography Nat King Cole: An Intimate Biography . She later produced her own show with which she performed in Australia.

Discography (selection)

  • Duke Ellington, The Carnegie Hall Concerts 1944 (Fantasy)
  • Duke Ellington, The V-Discs (1945-1946)
  • Duke Ellington, The Treasury Shows, Vol. 7 (1945)
  • Maria Cole (1954, CD with Verve)
  • Maria Cole, Love Is a Special Feeling (Capitol 1966)


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Death report on
  2. See short biography
  3. To: