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Hazel Scott: A classical and jazz musician who became one of America’s premier pianists

Marija Georgievska

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 featured in Café Society's From Bach to Boogie-Woogie concerts in 1941 and 1943 at Carnegie Hall.

Scott was featured in Café Society’s From Bach to Boogie-Woogie concerts in 1941 and 1943 at Carnegie Hall.

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.

In her most recent performances, Miss Scott's repertory ranged from show tunes to pop to rock to blues and jazz, all sung in an eclectic, profusion.

In her most recent performances, Miss Scott’s repertory ranged from show tunes to pop to rock to blues and jazz, all sung in an eclectic, profusion.

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.

She was the first Afro-Caribbean to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show.

She was the first Afro-Caribbean to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show.

In 1950, she became the first woman of color to have her own TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, featuring a variety of entertainment.

Scott had long been committed to civil rights, particularly in Hollywood. She refused to take roles in Hollywood that cast her as a singing maid.

Scott had long been committed to civil rights, particularly in Hollywood. She refused to take roles in Hollywood that cast her as a singing maid.

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.

Hazel Scott during a visit to Israel, 1962.

Hazel Scott during a visit to Israel, 1962.

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.

From the trailer for the film Rhapsody in Blue (1945).

From the trailer for the film Rhapsody in Blue (1945).

Hazel Scott died of cancer on October 2, 1981, at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.

Jazz fan? – Here is another fun read from us: Meet Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone

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).