Still Swinging, Still Classic: A Musical Biography of Pioneering Pianist Hazel Scott

Email a Friend
Jazz pianist Hazel Scott in a scene from director Irving Rapper's film 'Rhapsody In Blue.'

In celebration of Black History Month, WQXR host Terrance McKnight presents a portrait of Hazel Scott (1920-1981), the wife of late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and a Juilliard-trained pianist who performed in some of the world's most prestigious concert halls.

Known as the “darling of Café Society,” the Trinidad-born Scott was quickly recognized as a child prodigy, being accepted as a piano student at Juilliard at age 8. By age 14, she was playing in touring female bands while being mentored by Billie Holiday, Fats Waller and Art Tatum.

Later in life, Scott became a trailblazer in Hollywood; an outspoken civil rights activist which made her a political target; and finally an outcast, after being ostracized from her then-husband’s renowned Harlem church because of her musical style.

One of the reasons we've chosen to devote a special to Scott is her under-appreciated place in music, despite activism in the entertainment industry that rivaled that of Paul Robeson.

"She was the first African American woman to host her own television show without sketch comedy or a variety of guests, and I was completely enamored by her story even before hearing any of her recordings, which are amazing and trailblazing," says McKnight. "Her story will be of great interest to historians, music lovers and musicians."

At 9 pm on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, join McKnight for this one hour special. 

Program playlist:

Lucky to Be Me
Leonard Bernstein, B. Comden, A. Green
Hazel Scott, piano
Decca

The Man I Love
George & Ira Gershwin
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Country Gardens
Percy Grainger
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records 

Valse in D flat Major
Frederic Chopin
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records 

Two Part Invention in A minor
Johann Sebastian Bach
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records 

Mighty Like the Blues 
Leonard Feather
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Blues in B Flat 
Hazel Scott
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 in C Sharp Minor   
Franz Liszt
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Mary Lou 
Mary Lou Williams
J. Russel Robinson, Abe Lyman, George Waggner
Hazel Scott, piano
Columbia

C Jam Blues
Duke Ellington
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

For You, For Me, Forevermore
George & Ira Gershwin
Hazel Scott, piano
Decca

Love is the Thing
Ned Washington, Victor Young
Hazel Scott, piano
Decca

Just Imagine
B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, Roy Henderson
Hazel Scott, piano
Decca

Prelude in C sharp minor
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Hallelujah!
Vincent Youmans, Leo Robin and Clifford Grey
Hazel Scott, piano
Classics Records

Nightmare Blues

Hazel Scott
Hazel Scott, piano, voice
Columbia

Ev'ry Time
Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane
Hazel Scott, piano
Decca

I Wish I Didn't Love You So
Frank Loesser
Hazel Scott, piano
Decca

insert