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About Me


Don Dillingham's smooth baritone gives fullness to the songs of Nat King Cole while inviting the listener to feel the man and his music. If you close your eyes and let the soft, elegant music envelop you, Don emulates the legendary Nat King Cole with the same quiet dignity, style and sophistication. Rather than imitate Cole's iconic vocals, Don brings his own voice and production to the evenings entertainment. As a trained vocalist and performer, Don's concept for this musical journey begins by showcasing early Cole as the jazz singer and pianist, then highlights his more obscure songs, surprises with his multi-lingual tunes, and climaxes with tunes burned into our memories.  Don's fulfilling performances dishes up classic melodies: "Mona Lisa," "When I Fall in Love," "Quizás Quizás," and "Unforgettable." He showcased his singular talents at The Gaithersburg Arts Barn October 2020 with Unforgettable: A Tribute to Nat King Cole. His six performances were nearly sold out nightly.  Critics' reviews were highly enthusiastic for this stellar performance (seen below).


The concert is a tapestry of Don's stories and Cole's songs that made a difference in his life. He was introduced to Cole's unforgettable melodies as a young boy on the weekends when his United States Air Force father would cook and serenade the family with the smooth sounds of Nat King Cole. He went on to learn and love the history behind the music AND the man and treats the audience to his interpretation of both. Don uses Coles' music to swing the listeners from jazz, Bossa nova, and romantic ballads and makes the music fresh. A night shared with Don will not only illuminate your musical memory but elucidate many of the stories behind the songs and the phenomenal artist.


As an adult, his exposure and vocal talent has launched in many venues and directions. Don has sung and performed in the Metro DC, showcasing his diversity and creative spin on the classics.  He started crooning to his students as a MCPS educator, then lifted up his voice through spirituals with a church ensemble, advanced to serenading as a bass with The Alexandria Harmonizers, before launching his solo career. While with the Harmonizers he sang at The Strathmore in the off-Broadway musical The Story of Harvey Milk and Anne Hutchinson, the 70th anniversary of D-Day on the beaches of Normandy, France, and Carnegie Hall.


Pre-pandemic, he could be heard at Mr. Henry's, Blues Jazz and Supper Club, The Carlysle in Alexandria, Northern VA Community College (NOVA), Baltimore's An die Musik, and the infamous Alice's Jazz and Culture Club (JACCs).  With the TKQ (Terry Koger Quintet), he  appeared at the Mid Atlantic Jazz Festival. In past summers, Don attended and sang at a vocal jazz workshop concert with The New York Voices. Don has worked with Metro DC vocal creative talents such as Chris Grasso and Vince Evans. At The Gaithersburg Arts Barn, he soloed as Paul Williams of the Temptations in the musical I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and presented Unforgettable: A Tribute to Nat King Cole.


Post pandemic Don was welcomed back and once again"raised the roof" at The Arts Barn with a themed show titled Life in the Key of Love. This production explored through song how love impacts us all and how we respond.  The on-the-edge concert featured jazz, blues, country, R&B, Motown, Latin, and Blues. Don is currently working on performances such as This is Standard Time, songs of the American Song Book and a tribute to the melodic tunes of Burt Bacharach.


Sample of my music


What the critics are saying

DC Metro Theater Arts-January 11, 2020


"A near-capacity crowd hushed as the evening opened with the title song from Nat King Cole’s 1959 album Welcome to the Club. I was immediately impressed that Don Dillingham, the evening’s soloist, brought his own voice to the party rather than attempt to mimic Cole’s iconic vocals. That being said, several of the selections we enjoyed were near ringers for the tunes burned into memory."

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