Women in History: Hazel Scott, A Musical Pioneer

Posted by Liz T. on

Hazel Scott Collage

Hazel Scott (1920 – 1981) was an actress, singer, and supremely talented pianist who pioneered "swinging the classics," fusing classical and jazz music into her own signature style.

She was a musical child prodigy who was admitted to Julliard at age 8 and was performing in top venues by age 16. Later, she rose to prominence as a jazz singer and an actress, and became the first Black American to have their own national TV show with "The Hazel Scott Show" in 1950.

As an outspoken critic of discrimination and segregation, she worked to improve the representation of Black artists in film and made a lasting impact on the arts.  
Among her many impressive skills, she could flawlessly play two pianos at the same time, as seen in the below clip from the 1943 film, The Heat’s On.

Want more Hazel Scott? Here's another stunning performance from her 1943 movie, I DooD It, via Youtube. You can also hear more of her work and learn more about her life and her activism in a recent BBC World Service program, Hazel Scott: Jazz star and barrier breaker.

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