BiographyPort au Spain, Trinidad
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, classical and jazz musician Hazel Scott became one of America's premier pianists of her time. Born on June 11, 1920, this child prodigy first started tickling the ivories at age 3 under the guidance of her mother. She moved with her family to the U.S. in 1924 where she started performing in New York City and receiving scholarships to study classical music at the Juilliard School of Music -- all of this by age 8. Her mentors in jazz technique were Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson. Read more... her glamorous presence, she was a club and radio star by the late 30s and performed with such notables as Count Basie. She gained some attention for her swinging versions of classical themes. Hazel appeared in the productions "Singing Out the News" and "Priorities of 1942" on Broadway and played twice at Carnegie Hall. As a sometime actress, Hazel became a noted specialty performer in musical motion pictures, including "Something to Shout About" (1943), "I Dood It" (1943) and "Broadway Rhythm" (1944) during the war-era while releasing dozens of albums during her prime. Her most famous hit was "Tico Tico" and her catchy boogie-woogie style proved quite popular during the 40s, while her versatility and ability to shift from jazz to classical to blues was incomparable. Hazel married the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., noted Congressman, preacher and editor in 1945. She became the first black woman to host her own television show in 1950 but, within months, the show was canceled. An outspoken personality all her life, she was subsequently accused of being a Communist sympathizer. She refused to perform in segregated theaters and became a vocal critic of both McCarthyism and racial injustice. Following her divorce from Powell, she lived in Paris where she performed and enjoyed racial freedom during the 1960s. Her return to the U.S. marked a second career on TV with guest parts on such shows as Julia (1968) and The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1969) coming her way. Scott continued to perform in clubs until her death from cancer in 1981.