Who ever walked behind anyone to freedom? If we can’t go hand in hand, I don’t want to go
Hazel Scott moved with her parent to New York City when she was four years old. A child prodigy, she earned scholarships to the Juilliard School at the age of eight. By her teens Ms. Scott was performing professionally with a jazz band. Her ability to move between genres and swing the classics in her performances was among the first of this kind of fusion.
Hazel Scott was the first African American to host her own TV show, though her show was cancelled after she stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Committee on Un-American activities. She moved to Paris in 1957 and did not return to the US until 1967. Ms. Scott fought against racial prejudice during her life and was one of the first performers to refuse to perform for segregated audiences. After she signed with RKO Pictures in Los Angeles, she turned down the first four roles she was offered which were for singing maids. Instead, she appeared in five productions as herself.
Born 1920, Trinidad; Died 1981, USA
- Chilton, “Hazel Scott,The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist, from Café Society to Hollywood to HUAC”, 2010
- BBC World Program, The Forum, “Hazel Scott: Jazz star and barrier breaker”, 2020 https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/hazel-scott