Hazel Scott - Jazz Pianist, Singer, Actress

     Hazel Dorothy Scott was born on June 11th, 1920 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. As the only child of R. Thomas Scott, a scholar from Liverpool, England and Alma Long Scott, a trained pianist and music teacher, Hazel discovered her love for piano at a very young age. Overhearing her mother’s music lessons daily, Hazel developed the ability to play piano by ear and would often yell out to correct students who’s skills were not up to par. No one saw this gift as true talent until one day, young Hazel sat down at the piano to play “Gentle Jesus” which was a church hymn her grandmother would sing to her every day for nap time. From that day forward Hazel’s family knew she was gifted and focused more on building her personal dreams of becoming a famous jazz pianist, singer, and future actress.

     At the age of four, Hazel Scott moved to New York City with her mother. By eight years old she was known as a child prodigy and musical genius. While in high school she performed in a jazz band and on the radio and soon was the host to her very own radio show “The Hazel Scott Show”. At eighteen, after graduating from high school with honors, Hazel performed “Sing out the News” on Broadway and the year after she appeared at the New York World’s Fair. Soon after, in the year 1939, she was headed to Hollywood.

     In Hollywood, Hazel performed in many films, including ”The George Gershwin Story”, “I Dood It”, and “Rhapsody In Blue”. Some of her most popular musical hits were “A Foggy Day”, “Black and White are Beautiful” and “Takin’ A Chance”. By 1942 Hazel was earning $75,000 a year, which in today’s time would be nearly one million dollars.

 

     While exceeding in her career Hazel made it her mission to fight for racial justice and civil rights. As an entertainer, she refused to perform at segregated venues or accept roles presenting her as a singing maid. She required control over her wardrobe and final cut privileges of footage of her performances and movies. By 1950 Hazel was the first African-American woman to have her own television show, “The Hazel Show”. Although short-lived, Hazel’s show served as a beacon of hope for African American viewers around the world.

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