About Hazel Scott
Hazel Scott was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago to Alma Long Scott, a musician. They moved to New York City when Hazel was four. Recognized as a child musical prodigy, the young Scott was awarded scholarships to study classical piano at the Juilliard School from the age of eight. As a teenager, she performed piano and trumpet with her mother’s "Alma Long Scott" all-girl jazz band, which sometimes featured Lil Hardin-Armstrong.
Music career Hazel Scott Charles Mingus Night Music
By the age of 16, Hazel Scott regularly performed for radio programs for the Mutual Broadcasting System, gaining a reputation as the “hot classicist.” In the mid-1930s, she also performed at the Roseland Dance Hall with the Count Basie Orchestra. Her early musical theatre appearances in New York included the Cotton Club Revue of 1938, Sing Out the News and The Priorities of 1942. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Scott performed jazz, blues, ballads, popular (Broadway songs and boogie-woogie) and classical music in various nightclubs. From 1939 to 1943 she was a leading attraction at both the downtown and uptown branches of Café Society. Her performances created national prestige for the practice of “swinging the classics”. In addition to Lena Horne, Scott was one of the first African American women to garner respectable roles in major Hollywood pictures. She performed as herself in several features, notably I Dood It (MGM 1943), Broadway Rhythm (MGM 1944), with Lena Horne and in the otherwise all-white cast The Heat's On (Columbia 1943), Something to Shout About (Columbia 1943), and Rhapsody in Blue (Warner Bros 1945). In the 1940s, in addition to her film appearances, Scott was featured in Café Society’s From Bach to Boogie-Woogie Carnegie Hall concerts (1941 and 1943). She was the first woman of color to have her own television show, The Hazel Scott Show, which premiered on the DuMont Television Network on July 3, 1950. During a period of continued racism in the advertising industry as well as economic hardships for jazz musicians in general, the show was canceled in 1950. Some journalists speculated that the show was canceled because of her name's appearance in the Red Channels published by Counterattack. Scott was called to testify by the House Un-American Activities Committee just before her television variety program was canceled on September 29, 1950. Scott remained publicly opposed to McCarthyism and racial segregation throughout her career. Scott moved to Paris in the late 1950s, where she appeared in the French film Le Désordre et la Nuit’ (1958). She maintained a steady but difficult career in France and touring throughout Europe until returning to the US in 1967. She continued to play occasionally in nightclubs, while also appearing in daytime television until the year of her death. She made her television acting debut in 1973 on the ABC daytime soap opera One Life to Live," performing a wedding song at the nuptials of her "onscreen cousin", Carla Gray Hall, portrayed by Ellen Holly. Scott recorded as the leader of various groups for Decca, Columbia and Signature, among them a trio that consisted of Bill English and the double bass player Martin Rivera, and another featuring Charles Mingus on bass and Rudie Nichols on drums. Her album Relaxed Piano Moods on the Debut Record label, with Mingus and Max Roach, is generally her work most highly regarded by critics today.
In 1945 Scott married Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a U.S. Congressman. They had one child Adam Clayton Powell III, but divorced in 1960 after an earlier separation. On January 19, 1961, she married again, to Ezio Bedin, a Swiss-born comedian.
On October 2, 1981, Hazel Scott died of cancer at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She was 61 years old, and survived by her son Adam Clayton Powell III. She was buried at Flushing Cemetery in Queens, New York, near other musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges, and Dizzy Gillespie. Scott was best-known internationally as a performer of jazz. She was also accomplished in politics, leading the way for African Americans in entertainment and film; and was successful in dramatic acting and classical music. She was noted for her swinging style, performing at the Milford Plaza Hotel in her last months.