Shirley Scott Biography

14 March 1934, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, d. 10 March 2002, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Although she had studied both piano and trumpet as a child, Scott’s breakthrough occurred when she switched to organ in the mid-50s. Mostly working in small groups with a saxophone leader and a drummer, she became very popular. Her musical associates included outstanding jazzmen such as Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Stanley Turrentine (to whom she was married for a while), Jimmy Forrest and Dexter Gordon. A gifted player with an eclectic style that encompassed the blues and bebop, Scott was one of only a handful of organists to satisfactorily fit a potentially unsuitable instrument into a jazz setting. In the 80s she moved into education, teaching jazz history at Cheyney University, Pennsylvania, and also served as a church music director and jazz promoter. Scott’s career received a boost in the 90s when the Hammond organ became fashionable once more, but her health was affected by her use of the diet drug combination fen-phen which was later banned. Confined to bed in her later years, Scott died of heart failure in March 2002.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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