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The Hazel Scott Show

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The Hazel Scott Show was a 15-minute-long musical program hosted by pianist and singer Hazel Scott, who would perform show tunes and other numbers live on the show. Scott was no stranger to performing before she began appearing on the program: she had appeared in nightclubs, on radio and television programs, on Broadway, and in five feature films.

The program first aired on July 3, 1950. The show was produced and distributed by the DuMont network, and aired Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:45 pm to 8 pm ET on most DuMont affiliates The Joan Edwards Show was in the same time slot on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Trinidad-born Hazel Scott was described as a "novelty on the entertainment scene", and the series was well received by critics. Variety wrote: "Hazel Scott has a neat little show in this modest package. [The] most engaging element is the Scott personality, which is dignified, yet relaxed, and versatile. Despite critical acclaim and decent Hooper Ratings, the series was cancelled after just a few months. On June 22, 1950, Scott's name had appeared in Red Channels, an anti-Communist publication which named supposed Communist sympathizers. Although Scott appeared voluntarily before the House Un-American Activities Committee on September 22 and vehemently denied the charges, The Hazel Scott Show found itself without a sponsor.

The DuMont network cancelled the series just one week later, as her being listed in Red Channels meant the series would be very unlikely to get a sponsor, and DuMont likely could not afford a sustained program in the time-slot. The final network telecast was on September 29, 1950. The network replaced the series with The Susan Raye Show which only lasted from October 2 until November 20.

There's a time when you have to explain to your children why they're born, and it's a marvelous thing if you know the reason by then.

She was called the “Darling of Café Society” back in 1939 when New York City was alive with the sounds of swing. A sexy siren sitting bare-shouldered at the piano, Hazel Scott captivated audiences with her renditions of classical masterpieces by Chopin, Bach and Rachmaninoff.

Nightly, crowds would gather at Café Society, New York’s first fully integrated nightclub, the epicenter of jazz and politics nestled in Greenwich Village, to hear the nineteen-year-old bronze beauty transform “Valse in D-Flat Major”, “Two Part Invention in A-Minor,” and “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” into highly syncopated sensations. “But where others murder the classics, Hazel Scott merely commits arson,” wrote TIME magazine. “Strange notes creep in, the melody is tortured with hints of boogie-woogie, until finally, happily, Hazel Scott surrenders to her worse nature and beats the keyboard into a rack of bones.”

Hazel Scott’s Lifetime of High Notes

She began her career as a musical prodigy and ended up breaking down racial barriers in the recording and film industries

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad on June 11, 1920, Hazel Dorothy Scott was the only child of R. Thomas Scott, a West African scholar from Liverpool, England and Alma Long Scott, a classically-trained pianist and music teacher. A precocious child who discovered the piano at the age of 3, Hazel surprised everyone with her ability to play by ear. When she would scream with displeasure after one of Alma’s students hit a wrong note, no one in the household recognized the sensitive ear she possessed. “They had been amused, but no one regarded my urge as latent talent,” she recalled.

Until one day, young Hazel made her way to the piano and began tapping out the church hymn, “Gentle Jesus”, a tune her grandmother Margaret sang to her daily at nap time. From that moment on, Alma shifted her focus from her own dreams of becoming a concert pianist, and dedicated herself to cultivating her daughter’s natural gift. They were a tight knit pair, sharing an extremely close bond throughout their lives. “She was the single biggest influence in my life,” Hazel said. Her father, on the other hand, would soon leave the family and have a very small presence in his daughter’s life

Sources: Smithsonian Magazine, Wikipedia, Shishir Shonek (YouTube) and Eve Goldberg (YouTube) 

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All opinions expressed in this article are all my own, and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the leadership of #ADOS or American Descendants of Slavery.

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