Black History Month: Mary Lou Williams


Mary Lou Williams (born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs in Atlanta, GA on May 8, 1910) was a jazz pianist, arranger, and composer. Mary Lou wrote and arranged compositions for jazz heavyweights such as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, in addition to hundreds more compositions and arrangements. She taught herself to play piano at six years old, and supported her family by playing at parties while still a child. She recorded hundreds of records in her professional career, and was the first black woman to have a composition (Zodiac Suite) played at Carnegie Hall. Mary Lou died in Durham, NC in 1971 from bladder cancer. She was the mentor and friend of many well-known jazz musicians, including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and more. (Wikipedia)

See Also: Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band