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Hazel Scott: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC Hardcover – September, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In HAZEL SCOTT: THE PIONEERING JOURNEY OF A JAZZ PIANIST, FROM CAFÉ SOCIETY TO HOLLYWOOD TO HUAC (University of Michigan Press, $29.95) by Karen Chilton, the author presents the compelling biography of Hazel Scott, who became known not only for her accomplishments on stage and screen, but for her outspoken advocacy of civil rights. During the 1940s and `50s, her international career and her marriage to the controversial Black congressman from Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., kept her in the headlines. A target of the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy Era (late 1940s-1950s), she eventually joined the Black expatriate community in Paris. In the first biography of Scott, the author traces the fascinating arc of this star's life and rescues her from obscurity. --Ebony Magazine, October 2008

From the Back Cover

"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 Horwitz, NPR commentator and co-author of "Ain't Misbehavin'"

"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

"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 Boyd, author of Baldwin's Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin

"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."
-Farah Griffin, Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Columbia University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press; 1st edition (September 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472115677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472115679
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,733,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

KAREN CHILTON is a New York-based Writer & Actor. A native of Chicago's South Side, Ms. Chilton received her Business degree from Bradley University. She has extensive musical training from The Chicago Conservatory of Music in classical piano and has studied abroad as an America Field Service (AFS) international exchange student in the Dominican Republic. Other areas of intensive study include jazz history and dramatic writing.


Ms. Chilton is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography HAZEL SCOTT: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC (University of Michigan Press). JAZZ TIMES commented: "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." Chilton was awarded a month-long writer's residency at the Millay Colony for the Arts to support her work on the book. She is also the co-author of I WISH YOU LOVE, the jazz memoir of legendary vocalist, Gloria Lynne (St. Martin's Press/Feb 2000). The autobiography was a critical success, receiving an outstanding review from the industry journal, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: "Full of gossip, exclamation and vernacular, it's a book that demands to be read out loud. This is a moving tribute to the crucible of Harlem jazz."

Ms. Chilton's acting credits include the New York stage, episodic television, and principal roles in numerous independent films. Her performance in the award-winning independent film, HALF NELSON, directed by Ryan Fleck and starring Ryan Gosling, garnered outstanding reviews in the U.S. and abroad. "Karen Chilton projects limitless compassion and depth..." wrote INDIEwire. Critic Andrew Sarris wrote in The New York Observer: "The key to the direction of all the performances is tactful restraint and nuanced modulation. This applies to...Karen Chilton." She was also a principal in the short film version of that feature, entitled GOWANUS, BROOKLYN, winner of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Jury Prize. For her lead role in the film short, STRUGGLE, she received New York Magazine's "First Run Film Festival" Craft Award for Acting. The film is based on the 1970s police interrogation of black civil rights activist, Assata Shakur; it was also screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and has won numerous awards. Most recently, she appeared in the indie feature INSIDE A CHANGE, directed by Rik Cordero (winner of the 'BEST FILM AWARD' at the 2009 HBO LATINO FILM FESTIVAL) as well as director Tze Chun's short film SILVER SLING. She will appear in the upcoming feature IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY (Focus Films), scheduled for a 2011 release.

Her dramatic works for the stage include a solo performance piece for the stage, SAYING GRACE, directed by director/choreographer Ken Roberson (Avenue Q), which was performed in the 2003 Women of Color Theater Festival at New York's landmark theater, Henry Street Settlement. Her latest full-length play, CONVERGENCE is the winner of the 2004 New Professional Theatre Writers Festival; a public reading of the play was staged at The Duke Theater 42nd Street Studios.

She is also an accomplished voiceover artist and narrator. Her voice can be heard on numerous national network television and radio ad campaigns. She has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including C. Vivian Stringer's STANDING TALL (Random House), listed as one of Publishers' Weekly "Best Audiobooks of 2008" and I'VE GOT A HOME IN GLORY LAND (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Karolyn Smardz Frost, for which she received an Audiofile Golden Earphones Award. Most recently, she completed the narration for the audiobook version of HAZEL SCOTT. "This performance invokes the memories of smoked-filled jazz clubs and the Hollywood glam of the era...Chilton's inspiring historical biography of an American entertainer and her ability to capture the period make this presentation a winner," wrote AudioFile Magazine.


Ms. Chilton's affiliations include membership in the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity Association, American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and The Toni Morrison Society.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jazz Beau on October 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was happy that through my Amazon.com profile that the biography on Hazel Scott was recommended to me. I could not put the book down. I had heard bits and pieces about her life but did not know how much respect that she got from the "hardcore" jazz musicians; the likes of Mingus and Max Roach. It is no easy task to be accepted in my these cats. Being a jazz "purest" I totally dug that fact. The story, written smoothly, by Karen Chilton, wonderfully balanced family life routine of Hazel Scott with the challenging outside tensions - race, class, sex - of her heyday. All of this with a son and a famous husband to boot! Hazel Scott, a complicated and an important American Story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard Chilton Jr on November 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Karen Chilton has masterfully written a book that has fused a genre of jazz and African American history. Moreover, Karen complements the story of her subject (Hazel Scott) by demonstrating scholarly prowess as writer. The book supplies the reader with necessary factual background to understand Scott's story, as well as supplying appropriate references to a variety of external primary and secondary sources. In sum, this is the kind of book that requires the reader to maintain several bookmarks at once for ready reference: one to keep one's place in the text, another to reminisce of a time of creativity, joy, and passion in the midst of racism, segregation, and upheaval, and a final one to mark the notes/bibliography. A must read for everyone, and gratefulness to Karen Chilton for resurrecting another African American icon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Riley on November 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Just finished 'HAZEL' and I LOVED IT! Celebrity bios are my favorite literary genre and this is amongst the best I've ever read. Thanks to Karen's awesomely descriptive way with words, I feel like I've been on a fantastic journey through infinite possibilities and the pitfalls that come with them (especially during the time in which Hazel Scott reigned supreme). What HIGHs and LOWs - all at once. Sounds like my own life sometimes and yet I know the core to Hazel's essence is RESILLIENCE... and Karen tangibly outlined the depths of her FIERCENESS --- to perfection. This book should have a long-shelf-life to ensure that the millions who are into DIVAS know on whose shoulders they stand in large order. I've blogged about it a couple of times via "A DAY IN THE LIFE OF RILEY: POP CULTURE & POSSIBILITIES":[...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yvonne on November 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Hazel Scott's compelling story writtten by Karen Chilton captures you
immediately through adventure, extraordinary perseverance and
determination exhibited by the female characters. Karen has woven this
narrative of history, culture, gender and explicitly demonstrates how a
black woman was brave, courageous and determined to fight for her ideals
and beliefs. Hazel Scott endures pain and obstacles, yet remained
steadfast and purposeful exhibiting her talent as a child prodigy,
an unselfish wife, a devoted mother and a fierce civil rights fighter.
Karen Chilton weaves the threads that will conquer the attention,
applause and vicarious experiences with an anticipation that keeps you
reading and wishing for more as the story concludes. Book clubs will be able to have enlightening, meaningful chats after reading "Hazel Scott, The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist from Cafe Society to Hollywood to HUAC". A must read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Beverly L. Jones on November 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wow,Wow, I just finished reading this book and it is really an excellent book. First of all let me tell you a little about me, I am a senior who loves Jazz, The Harlem Renaissance, and history. This book brought all of the above subjects to light while telling the story of Hazel Scott. Like so many Americans, I knew of Ms. Scott, however; I was unaware of all of her contributions. Ms. Chilton does an excellent job of letting us know the real Hazel Scott.

This is the kind of book that can be used in an undergraduate or graduate class at any University. Ms. Chilton research is effective and it appears as if at times it is Ms. Scoot actually speaking.

This book has come on the scene at a real interesting time in our history. The fact that we have our first Black President is in real contrast with the kinds of experiences that Congressman Powell and Ms. Scott both experienced in their various careers. In fact, many students and average American citizens would really be shocked at what was going on in race relations 40 or 50 years ago. This book gives an illustrative account of race relations from the 40's up until Ms. Scott made her tranisiton in 1982.

This book will be gifts for my love ones who love to read.

Thank you,

Mrs. Beverly L. Jones
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Austin on October 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Quite a pleasant surprise, could not put the book down. Historically accurate yet entertaining. Wonderfully written with abundant wit and humor. Compelling yet complicated story of this female Jazz Pianist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Bingham on February 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This novel was truly Hazel Scott's journey, but as I delved further into it, I realized that it was more importantly, a remarkable journey for me. I was thrust into a world that is so different from mine, and introduced to a woman who was lightyears ahead of her time. I found it interesting that she touched the lives of so many individuals we read about in our history books. They were her friends, fans, supporters, teachers and lovers. They recognized her natural talent, admired her beauty and adored her creativity as she fused classical piano with jazz, be-bop and her own personal, glamorous style.

The author does a great job of portraying her in such a fashion that the reader feels a part of Hazel's life, and experiences the trials and tribulations of this woman who answered the door and paid her mother's bills as a small child, to the woman who was nearly bankrupt living abroad and away from her husband's troubles that plagued both of their lives for years.

Hazel Scott was a class act, and I highly recommend that everyone learn more about her by reading this fascinating story of her life.
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