|Biography of Ronnie Kole
||by Rose of Sharon Witmer|
New Orleans Newest Musical Legend is Jazz pianist Ronnie Kole – Ronnie is a class act and consummate performer who is popular in both his own country and overseas. The New Orleans-based musician spends much time abroad in Europe and Asia, where his smooth sound and elegant persona lend themselves to refined venues and guest appearances with symphony orchestras as well as festivals world wide. Kole is a piano man’s piano man, admired by many top stars in the business, from Harry Connick Jr. to Allen Toussaint.
Born in Chicago, Kole was afflicted with heart trouble as a child, which landed him in Spaulding School for the handicapped. He received much encouragement there from the celebrities who made a point to visit. In return, Kole has become very involved in charitable and civic organizations in his professional career, such as being President of the Louisiana Easter Seal Society, President and Chairman of the Sugar Bowl, Chairman of the Louisiana Tourist Commission, 2008 President of the World Trade Center and 2009 Chairman of the Board of the WTC, to mention a few. He sits on more boards than there are ivory keys on the piano, and helped organize both the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the French Quarter Festival, and has made numerous appearances at both venues.
A protégé of Al Hirt, Kole began his professional career on television, gaining exposure on the Johnny Carson Show. After a stint in Las Vegas, he followed Hirt to New Orleans. Kole honed his act in Hirt‘s club on Bourbon Street, before opening his own club, Kole’s Corner, which, along with Hirt and Pete Fountain‘s clubs, became a top venue to hear world class entertainment and music. He has since closed his club and devotes his performances now mostly to concerts, in the states and abroad. The Lifetime Achievement Award, Chevalier to the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Government are just a few of his countless awards. He has played for six presidents and Pope John Paul II, and has performed in cities all over the world.
Kole is the fifth person to be inducted into New Orleans Musical Legends Park, located in the French Quarter of New Orleans…On April 11th 2008 his life size bronze statue was unveiled, standing along side Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Fat’s Domino and Chris Owens…Quite a tribute to this living legend… Louis Prima’s statue was added in December of 2010…October 27th, 2010 Kole received the Mahalia Jackson Lifetime Achievement Award along with Fats Domino, Pete Fountain and Ellis Marsalis. The latest honor was Kole being inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame on November 4th, 2012.
Kole retains complete artistic control over his own work, recording on his own label, MMI. Some of his CDs capture the charm of the man and his music, which leans toward the standards of a more civilized era. One is likely to hear the works of Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. Good listening choices include Ronnie Kole at Carnegie Hall-Live (1996), Swing Hot Swing Kole (1996), and Ronnie Kole Trio in Concert: Live, Music of the Vines, Volumes I and II, Top Ten Big Band Hits. Thanks for the Memories, a double CD called The Ronnie Kole Show, Live at St. Scholastica Academy (2004), The American Masters Series CD and DVD with the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony and Chorale (2007), and the Ronnie Kole Trio, plus a Live in Concert with the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra DVD…
Kole’s CD’s Music of the Vines, Volumes 1 and 2 are cleverly arranged around his appearances at many chateaux throughout the wine country of France, where he is immensely popular. For the music he wrote and recorded about the vineyards, he received the Chevalier to the Arts and Letters, the highest award the French Government gives to a person in the Arts. The exquisite settings of the vineyards are a perfect backdrop for a musician who sets the standard for elegance itself, in a way that perhaps no musical artist has done since Duke Ellington last sat down at the piano.
Now you know the “Amazing Grace” of Ronnie Kole, Pianist/Entertainer.