Hazel Dorothy Scott was a Trinidadian-born jazz and classical pianist and singer and she also performed as herself in several movies.
Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on June 11, 1920, Scott was the child of an upper-middle-class professional family.
Her father, R. Thomas Scott, had been a scholar in Liverpool before emigrating to the then British colony to teach English at St. Mary’s College.
Her mother, Alma Long Scott, was a talented musician and the daughter of an architect.
Scott was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s.
She was called the “Darling of Café Society” back in 1939 when New York was alive with the sounds of swing.
She captivated audiences with her renditions of classical masterpieces by Chopin, Bach, and Rachmaninoff.
Nightly, a crowd would gather at Café Society to hear the nineteen-year-old bronze beauty transform “Valse in D-Flat Major”, “Two Part Invention in A-Minor,” and “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” into highly syncopated sensations.
In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, featuring a variety of entertainment.
Hazel Scott became known not only for her accomplishments on stage and screen but for her outspoken advocacy of civil rights.
On September 14, 1950, she appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to defend her appearances and performances at rallies and fundraisers for various groups and causes.
In 1945, Scott married Adam Clayton Powell Jr, a Baptist minister and U. S. Congressman from Connecticut.
They had one child, Adam Clayton Powel III, but divorced in 1960 after a separation. In 1961, she married Ezio Bedin, a Swiss-born comedian.
Hazel Scott died of cancer on October 2, 1981, at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.
She was buried at Flushing Cemetery in Queens, New York, near other musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges, and Dizzy Gillespie (who died in 1993).