Scott was a child prodigy, born in Trinidad and raised in Harlem in the 1920s, and her musical talent was cultivated by her musician mother as well as several great jazz luminaries of the period, including Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and Lester Young. Career success was swift for the young pianist: she auditioned at the prestigious Juilliard School when she was only eight years old, hosted her own radio show, and shared the bill at the Roseland Ballroom with the Count Basie Orchestra at fifteen. After Scott made several standout performances on Broadway, it was the opening of New York's first integrated nightclub, Café Society, that made her a star. She would later become one of the first black women to host her own television show.
During the 1940s and '50s, Scott's sexy and vivacious presence captivated fans worldwide, while her marriage to the controversial black congressman from Harlem, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., kept her constantly in the headlines. Her relentless activism on behalf of African Americans, women, and artists made her the target of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the McCarthy era, eventually forcing her to join the black expatriate community in Paris. Though she was once one of the most sought-after talents in show business, Scott would return to America, after years of living abroad, to a music world that no longer valued what she had to offer. In this first biography of an important but overlooked African American pianist, singer, actor, and activist, Hazel Scott's contributions are finally recognized.