Arts

Jazz Artist Sweet Lu Olutosin Orchestrates Nat King Cole Celebration In Atlanta

Atlanta jazz artist Sweet Lu Olutosin will be playing with his trio this Sunday at the Southwest Arts Center.
Atlanta jazz artist Sweet Lu Olutosin will be playing with his trio this Sunday at the Southwest Arts Center.
Credit Donna McMichen

March 17 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the legendary Nat King Cole. Cole is a pioneer in American history by being the first African-American man to host his own nationally broadcast television show.

His virtuoso piano style still inspires musicians. However, he is best known as a charismatic entertainer whose elegant, emotionally-rich voice could swing and soothe audiences around the globe.

To commemorate the influence of this timeless entertainer, Atlanta jazz artist “Sweet Lu” Olutosin created the Atlanta “Nat King Cole Centennial Celebration” taking place this Sunday with Grammy-nominated Freddy Cole headlining. Sweet Lu’s mission is to inform and educate audiences about Cole’s legacy — which “City Lights” is also doing with the ongoing Nat King Cole Centennial series.

Olutosin retired after 35 years in the military as a Colonel. He transitioned into a jazz musician after playing some in the army.

“Music has always been apart of who I am since birth. My parents were gospel singers, so music was always apart of everything I’ve done,” said Olutosin.

This isn’t the first time that Olutosin has performed at a centennial concert. In 2015, he performed in Italy and New York City at the Frank Sinatra Centennial. He began to notice the types of people were being honored nationally for their musical excellence. This idea and need for representation in the African-American community led Olutosin to create the “Nat King Cole Celebration.”

Olutosin decided to step up to the plate in order to make this event happen.

“I took it upon myself to shine a spotlight on those artists who really need to be recognized,” he said.

His latest album Meet Me at the Crossroads is Olutosin’s third album and topped number one on the Billboards in 2017.

“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Olutosin about the upcoming concert. You can see “Nat King Cole: The Man. The Music. The Legacy (A Family Affair)” Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Southwest Arts Center.