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Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams by Linda Dahl

Linda Dahl, author of the 1984 book Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazz women, has written a long-overdue first full-length biography of Mary Lou Williams, a pianist-composer who overcame a background of poverty and neglect to become one of the most influential women in jazz. Although an annual Kennedy Center festival was named for her in 1995, Williams remains one of the least known musicians, despite a 50-year career that transverses all eras of jazz and her influences upon John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Hilton Ruiz and other jazz players.

Dahl was the first person given complete access to the Williams archives: photos, telegrams, letters, notebooks, music manuscripts and a series of scrapbooks and journals documenting Williams’ activities from the 1920s in New York. Dahl interviewed family members, friends, musicians and pivotal people such as Father Peter F. O’Brien, S.J., who met Williams in 1964 and became her personal manager until her death from bladder cancer on May 28, 1981 in Durham, N.C.

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