Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams (born Mary Elfrieda Scruggs; May 8, 1910 – May 28, 1981) was an American jazz pianist, arranger, and composer. She wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements and recorded more than one hundred records (in 78, 45, and LP versions). Williams wrote and arranged for Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, and she was friend, mentor, and teacher to Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Tadd Dameron, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie.

She has been noted for her 1954 conversion to Catholicism, which led to a musical hiatus and a later transformation in the nature of her music. She continued to perform and work as a philanthropist, educator, and youth mentor until her death from bladder cancer in 1981.

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