Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams
Williams (Photo Credit: The Kansas City Star)

1910 – 1981 

Among the great jazz musicians, Mary Lou Williams was a piano prodigy and became a professional performer while in her teens. With her husband John Williams she moved to Kansas City in the late 1920s and shattered barriers in the male-dominated jazz scene with her immense talents as a piano soloist, composer and arranger. 

Leaving Kansas City in 1942, she formed her own small group, later joined Duke Ellington’s band, retired briefly, but remained active into the 1970s. A section of 10th Street between The Paseo and Woodland is named “Mary Lou Williams Lane” in her honor.