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The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC

by Karen Chilton

(University of Michigan Press)

"Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to this fine biography is that during the first 150 pages the reader is wondering why Scott isn’t better known, at least in the jazz world. But by the story’s end in 1981 with Scott’s death...the same reader knows exactly why, but is still likely to be singing her praises as a true trailblazer in African-American culture."

JAZZ TIMES, Lee Mergner 

"Karen Chilton's highly-anticipated 'Hazel Scott' is both elegant and eloquent."

WIL HAYGOODAuthor of King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

“Karen Chilton has deftly woven three narrative threads—Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Harlem, and Hazel Scott—into a marvelous tapestry of black life, particularly from the Depression to the Civil Rights era. Of course, Hazel Scott’s magnificent career is the brightest thread, and Chilton handles it with the same finesse and brilliance as her subject brought to the piano."    HERB BOYDAuthor of Baldwin’s Harlem:  A Biography of James Baldwin

Also available as an AUDIOBOOK

"This book is really, really important. It comprises a lot of history-- of culture, race, gender, and America. In many ways, Hazel's story is the story of the Twentieth century."

MURRAY HORWITZCo-Author, Ain't Misbehavin' & NPR commentator

"Hazel Scott was an important figure in the later part of the Black renaissance onward. Even in an era where there was limited mainstream recognition of Black Stars, Hazel Scott's talent stood out and she is still fondly remembered by a large segment of the community. I am pleased to see her legend honored."​​

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES, Filmmaker/Director



"Chilton's calm, eloquent tone replicates Scott's 1940s musical style...[her] soft, melodious voice captures the listener's attention with its hypnotic stillness. This performance invokes the memories of smoked-filled jazz clubs and the Hollywood glam of the era."

About the Author

“A wonderful book about an extraordinary woman: Hazel Scott was a glamorous, gifted musician and fierce freedom fighter. Thank you Karen Chilton for reintroducing her. May she never be forgotten.”


Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia University

KAREN CHILTON - Hi Res Headshot.jpg

KAREN CHILTON is a New York-based Writer/Actor whose work has been seen on stage, film and television. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Ms. Chilton received her M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing at NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, and a B.S. degree in Economics from Bradley University.

She is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography of jazz/classical pianist HAZEL SCOTT: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Café Society to Hollywood to HUAC (University of Michigan Press) which she has recently adapted for the screen. She is co-author of I WISH YOU LOVE, the jazz memoir of legendary vocalist Gloria Lynne (St. Martin’s Press). She was a contributor to the 75th anniversary commemorative edition of AIN’T NOTHING LIKE THE REAL THING: The Apollo Theater and American Entertainment with an essay on blues legend, Bessie Smith.

Her dramatic writing credits include: THE TONGUE & THE LASH in collaboration with renowned pianist/composer, Damien Sneed, commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for the 2021 New Works, Bold Voices! Lab; the chamber opera was directed by OTSL Artistic Director, James Robinson and conducted by Daniela Candillari. Additional works for the stage include: AFRODISIAC (Or Let My People Flow!) (Nominated for New York Theatre Workshop-Golden & Ruth Harris Commission; Finalist for the 2020 Goldberg Prize-NYU Tisch); HEIRLOOM (Semi- Finalist-O’Neill Nat’l Playwrights Conference 2019); CONVERGENCE (Winner of the New Professional Theatre’s Writers Festival). She wrote and performed the libretto for THE SOUL NOW SINGS in collaboration with pianist, Damien Sneed, produced by NPR/New York Public Radio (WNYC) in The Greene Space. Her short plays, BLUE CASSIUS and SWITCH! have been produced in the Obie award-winning theater festivals 48 Hours In Harlem and The Fire This Time Theater Festival. She is a fellow for the Liberation Theatre Company’s Playwriting Fellowship (2020-2021).

An AUDIE award-winning narrator and VoiceOver artist, her voice can be heard on dozens of audiobooks and tv/radio campaigns.

Her affiliations include membership in the SAG/AFTRA, AEA, ASCAP, The Dramatists
Guild, Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), The Toni Morrison Society, and New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT).

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