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Hazel Scott: Swinging the Classics

I came across an inspiring jazz and classical performer, Hazel Scott (1920—1981), while browsing Frislander's tumblr (I highly recommend occasionally browsing the tumblr, he finds very interesting things). Hazel Scott was a star in her time period (30s to 50s). One of the most famous musicians of her day, she was a bigger celebrity than Oprah is today. A child progidy, she played piano even before she moved to Harlem from Trinidad at age four. Throughout her entire career, she followed her convictions, refusing to play demeaning roles in films or play in front of segregated audiences (unlike most American musicians of any race during that time). In 1950, the Hazel Scott Show was the first television programme hosted by a black woman. She faded into obscurity after having been falsely accused of being a Communist. For more, see this documentary by Eve Goldberg:

Here is a clip of her playing the song Black & White. I couldn't find any references to a song of this title from the time of that performance (1943, from the movie The Heat's On), so I suspect it's an original:

More clips (from 1955):
"Foggy Day"
"Les Feuilles mortes"
(Dead Leaves in English, but the song title is usually translated as Autumn Leaves)

The documentary sparked my curiosity about Harry Cohn, co-founder of Columbia Pictures (I'm a fan of a lot of its films). What I found was disturbing. He was an abusive, tyrannical boss who demanded sex from his female workers. He makes modern Hollywood, with all of its sexism and whitewashing, look progressive. I hope that after reading about him, the whole world can just get together and say "Screw that guy!" We need more Hazel Scotts to push against the ugly bits of our world and stand for what is right.

For more interesting music, see my youtube channel. It has a wide variety of instrumentation, ranging from bagpipes to theremins to Mongolian throat singing, and an equally wide variety of genres, from polyphonic chants to steampunk rap. Feel free to post suggestions in the channel's discussion page, and I'll add the videos to my public playlist if I like them.

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