Mary Lou Williams
An arranger, composer, and magnificent pianist, Mary Lou Williams was one of America’s greatest jazz musicians despite living in a time when women performers were scarce and women composers were almost unheard of. She even wrote and arranged pieces for some of the most famous bands and band leaders in her day, including Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. She said in an interview, “I’ve learned from many people. I change all the time. I experiment to keep up with what is going on, to hear what everybody else is doing. I even keep a little ahead of them, like a mirror that shows what will happen next.”
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