Mary Lou Williams Mary Lou Williams artist page: interviews, features and/or performances archived at NPR Music

Mary Lou Williams

Andy Kirk And His Orchestra, including Mary Lou Williams (sitting at the piano), pose for a studio group portrait in 1940. Williams toured with Kirk's band before settling in New York. Gilles Petard/Redferns hide caption

toggle caption
Gilles Petard/Redferns

Mary Lou Williams in 1942. In the 1930s and '40s, her apartment on 63 Hamilton Terrace formed an important space in advancing the evolution of jazz and the survival of musicians. Donaldson Collection/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Jazz helped Mary Lou Williams stay alive — but after several draining decades as a musician, she quit the scene. When she returned, she claimed her true power as one of jazz's fiercest advocates. Metronome/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Metronome/Getty Images

Mary Lou Williams, Missionary Of Jazz

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/758076879/759899498" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Mary Lou Williams began arranging in 1929. By 1942, she was among the most renowned arrangers in the business. Bettmann/Bettmann Archive hide caption

toggle caption
Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Turning The Tables: 8 Women Who Invented American Popular Music Chelsea Beck for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Chelsea Beck for NPR

Hear a conversation about the third season of Turning the Tables on Morning Edition

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/743415843/746882046" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Mary Lou Williams' choral masterpiece Black Christ Of The Andes showcased her seemingly endless ability to innovate. William P. Gotlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

toggle caption
William P. Gotlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com

Mary Lou Williams at the CBS studios in 1947. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption
William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Mary Lou Williams On Piano Jazz

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126537497/287297173" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Mary Lou Williams, ca. 1946. William P. Gotlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

toggle caption
William P. Gotlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com

Mary Lou Williams, 'Perpetually Contemporary'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/11904062/11972690" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Can you name all the musicians in the photo? Need help? Art Kane/Art Kane Archives hide caption

toggle caption
Art Kane/Art Kane Archives

Mary Lou Williams received an honorary degree from Fordham University in 1973. Mary Lou Williams Collection, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University hide caption

toggle caption
Mary Lou Williams Collection, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University

Listening, Party For Two: Mary Lou Williams, 'Aries'

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126839260/126826965" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Not only did Mary Lou Williams write and arrange music for herself and legends like Benny Goodman, but she also taught Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. Metronome/Archive Photos hide caption

toggle caption
Metronome/Archive Photos

Mary Lou Williams: A Centennial Celebration

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126613987/126630811" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Mary Lou Williams received an honorary degree from Fordham University in 1973. Mary Lou Williams Collection, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University hide caption

toggle caption
Mary Lou Williams Collection, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University

Mary Lou Williams In Concert On JazzSet 1978, 1976

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/126553362/126552620" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Kennedy Center honors Mary Lou Williams every year with the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, which showcases today's brightest female jazz artists. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

toggle caption
William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com