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Young at Art

Female jazz prodigies, then and now

Mary Lou Williams
Nikki Yanofsky
Terri Lyne Carrington
Emily Bear with Quincy Jones, founder of Qwest TV
Emily Bear with Quincy Jones


A giant among pianists and equally influential as an arranger, educator and mentor (whose acolytes included Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie), Williams was entirely self-taught. Later synonymous with religious jazz, she made her professional debut at age 6 and teamed with Duke Ellington at 15. No wonder, when a dumbstruck Louis Armstrong first heard the teenaged Williams play, his immediate reaction was to lift her off her feet and kiss her.

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