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 Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams

Birth
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Death 28 May 1981 (aged 71)
Durham, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
Burial Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Section K, Lot 586
Memorial ID 19938 · View Source
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Jazz Musician. One of the most influential woman in the history of jazz, she worked with, among others, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. Mary Lou Williams was born (Mary Elfrieda Scruggs) in Atlanta, Georgia on May 8, 1910 and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an illegitimate child of an impoverished and indifferent mother. Mary Lou Williams childhood, like that of Ethel Waters and Billie Holiday, was rough and short. Like Waters and Holiday, she had to earn her own livelihood while still a child, and became a woman before she was ready. At age six Williams was already helping to support her ten half-brothers and sisters by playing for parties. She began performing publicly at the age of seven, when she became known admiringly in her native Pittsburgh as "the little piano girl of East Liberty." At seventeen Williams married a saxophone player named John Williams, one of her many tumultuous marriages and love affairs she went through throughout her life. She found comfort for her many disappointments and hurts not only in her music but in her spirituality. Mary Lou Williams wrote the well known "Trumpets No End" (1946) for Duke Ellington. Among her recordings "Zodiac Suite" (1945), "Waltz Boogie" (1946) and "Black Christ of The Andes" (1963). In 1970 as solo pianist and commentator she recorded The History of Jazz, she also during her musical career composed three complete masses and wrote other sacred music. Mary Lou Williams died in Durham, North Carolina on May 28, 1981. She was buried in Calvary Cemetery in a peaceful hilly section of Pittsburgh. As Mary Lou Williams said, looking back at the end of her life, "I did it, didn't I? Through muck and mud."

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 29 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19938
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Mary Lou Williams (8 May 1910–28 May 1981), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19938, citing Calvary Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .