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She Was Once the Biggest Star in Jazz. Here’s Why You’ve Never Heard of Her.

Hazel Scott was a piano prodigy who wowed the worlds of music, TV, and film. But when she stood up for her rights, the establishment took her down.

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Born in Trinidad, Scott was raised on music. As Karen Chilton recounts in her biography, Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC, Scott’s whole family played and her mother, Alma, an aspiring concert pianist, taught music to help make ends meet. Unbeknownst to her family, Hazel Scott absorbed everything she heard until one day she woke her grandmother from a nap by playing a familiar hymn on the piano, two-handed and with perfect pitch. Her grandmother woke thinking, not wrongly, that she was witnessing a miracle.

Hazel Scott w/Charles Mingus and Rudy Nichols. "Foggy Day"

Hazel Scott, Jazz and Classical Pianist, Performs Liszt

In a performance filmed for World War II soldiers, Hazel Scott begins with a section from Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" and ends with a jazzy tune (Army / Navy Screen Magazine).

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