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Mary Lou Williams: the Lady Who Swings the Band

Mary Lou Williams

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first guest on Marian McPartland’s influential "Piano Jazz" radio show, and was an artist-in-residence at Duke University, from 1977 until her death from cancer in 1981.

With over three hundred and fifty compositions to her credit, Mary Lou Williams’ imprint on jazz is eternal. She leveled to playing field of the mostly-male bandstand, and today, the successful careers of musicians like Geri Allen, Teri Lynne Carrington, Tia Fuller and Esperanza Spalding are the greatest fruits of her overlooked labors of love and swing.

“Only out of suffering,” she says in Linda Dahl’s biography, “is a true thing born.”