Do you know the name Hazel Scott? And do you love her? You should- and here’s why:
- She was a huge talent! This is something her family noticed at an early age. Her mother was a pianist and teacher, and when Hazel was only three, her mom started to notice that the child howled every time a student played a wrong note! By the time she was 8, she’d been given scholarships to attend Juilliard- even though the minimum student age was 16.
- She hosted her own radio show on WOR in New York City- and what’s not to love about that? Even more, she was still in high school at the time.
- She was an activist! Hazel was one of the first black artists who refused to play for segregated audiences. In one memorable instance, she was escorted out of Austin, Texas, by the Texas Rangers after declining to play in a segregated venue. When she began acting in Hollywood, she fought against stereotyped casting that relegated black actresses to roles along the lines of maids and prostitutes, and ultimately lost out on future acting opportunities because she was so outspoken on this point.
- She spoke out against McCarthy era blacklisting- and was blacklisted herself. Her career would never truly recover. Still, according to Scott, ““I’ve been brash all my life, and it’s gotten me into a lot of trouble, but at the same time, speaking out has sustained me and given meaning to my life.”
- She could play two pianos at once (see below, in the 1943 film “The Heat’s On”).
- And if all of that wasn’t enough, she’s featured in one of the newest recordings in the KHFM library! You can hear her music this Friday, March 26th, as performed by pianist Lara Downes, as we share the new release from Rising Sun Records, “Phenomenal Women,” in the 9am hour.