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Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams

Photo: The Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City

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  • 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.