Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-xii

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Intro

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pp. xiii-xvi

In the winter of 1939, as New York’s most famous poets and intellectuals, artists and celebrities descended upon Café Society, the city’s first integrated nightclub, a nineteen-year-old relative unknown prepared for her debut. ...

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Chapter 1. That Marvel of Marvels

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pp. 1-8

Amid low-lying mountains and fertile valleys, where the sounds of African ceremonial drums fell in time with the sacred hymns streaming out from the cathedral and children danced to popular calypsos in the street, Hazel Dorothy Scott was born. She was graced by the natural beauty of this lush land on the northwest coast of Trinidad, ...

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Chapter 2. A World Away

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pp. 9-17

Thrilled by the roar of the ship and its rhythmic sway over the waves, Hazel traipsed up and down the decks unable to contain her excitement. After all, it was her birthday, and she expected to have a good time. Alma had been laid low by seasickness and could do very little to make their trip the festive time she had promised. ...

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Chapter 3. Paraphrasing Rachmaninoff

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pp. 18-24

Under Alma’s direction, Hazel learned the fundamentals of the piano. Her ear was so keen that she could play, almost immediately, whatever she heard. But Alma wanted her to learn the proper technique. She organized a daily schedule of formal instruction, beginning at the beginning—hands-alone training to hands together, ...

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Chapter 4. Women’s Work

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pp. 25-34

On October 24, 1929, “Black Thursday” brought a hush to the roar of the twenties. And everything went dark for a while. Following the stock market crash, relief applications among blacks in Harlem quadrupled. It would be just a matter of months before breadlines became a regular feature of the landscape. ...

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Chapter 5. Crescendo

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pp. 35-48

“Overnight, I had become a slender, provocative creature.”1
Summer had come, and Hazel’s budding figure had outgrown all of her clothes. Grandmother Margaret took her shopping, complaining that Alma had left her “woefully unequipped as to a wardrobe.”2 They went shopping on 125th Street where Margaret, ...

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Chapter 6. Hazel’s Boogie-Woogie

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pp. 49-71

With its leftist political leanings and integrated club policy, which applied to both performers and patrons, Café Society was a truly novel idea. The venue opened in the winter of 1938, proclaiming itself “the wrong place for the Right people.” Starting with its name, a cunning play on the label usually given to the fashionable elite, ...

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Chapter 7. Seeing Stars

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pp. 72-89

Summer 1942. It was the season of Hazel’s introduction to Hollywood.
With all its cinematic allure, the gray-toned glamour and illustrious tales of girl meets boy and good over evil, Hollywood held no mystery for the astute young pianist. Up until that time, few black performers had escaped the poor treatment handed down by studio bosses, directors, and producers. ...

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Chapter 8. Adam

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pp. 90-96

He was the only son of Mattie Shaefer Powell and Adam Clayton Powell Sr., pastor of the century-old Abyssinian Baptist Church. A privileged child, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was born on November 29, 1908, in New Haven, Connecticut, surrounded by all the comforts of middle-class living. ...

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Intermezzo

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pp. 97-100

“I have always been a very strong feminine creature,” Hazel said, “and to subdue me a very, very strong masculine creature is required.”1 Adam Powell was just such a creature.
A frequent stalker of Manhattan nightlife, Powell was a regular at Café Society, and he knew when Hazel was on the bill. ...

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Chapter 9. Fervor & the Fury

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pp. 101-109

In 1942, the New York state legislature, after much political wrangling, passed a long overdue congressional reapportionment bill making Harlem the city’s Twenty-second Congressional District. A redrawing of political districts gave Harlem its first opportunity for representation in Congress. ...

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Chapter 10. The Powells

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pp. 110-136

They were the most sensational black couple in America. The national press followed their professional lives in feature articles; the black press published cover stories exposing their glamorous lifestyle. All over Manhattan, photographers captured images of them horseback riding, boating, and dashing in and out of their limousine. ...

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Chapter 11. Black and Red

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pp. 137-150

During the late 1940s, postwar America found itself grappling with major social and political issues that left the country divided. Democracy was worthy of battle overseas, but at home it remained an elusive ideal for many of America’s citizens. ...

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Chapter 12. Notes of Discord

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pp. 151-172

Summers overseas became something of a family ritual beginning in 1951 when Hazel scheduled a concert tour with engagements stretching clear across the continent. Onboard the Ile de France, the Scotts were off to explore Europe. It was a working vacation for her, a sightseeing tour for young Adam, ...

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Chapter 13. La Paix de Paris?

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pp. 173-189

Home for Hazel was no longer tied to a romantic ideal of suburban bliss. Home would be where she was happiest. At thirty-seven, she began anew, surrounding herself with the company of friends, old and new, fashioning the lifestyle of a newly single woman. “My Paris is not the city of champagne and caviar,” she said.1 “ ...

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Chapter 14. Saint Mary Lou

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pp. 190-202

“In Paris nowadays, it is rather more difficult for an American Negro to become a really successful entertainer than it is rumored to have been some thirty years ago,” observed author James Baldwin. “For one thing, champagne has ceased to be drunk out of slippers, and the frivolously colored thousand-franc note is neither as elastic nor as freely spent as it was in the 1920’s.”1 ...

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Chapter 15. Rondo

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pp. 203-214

“Hazel Scott Comes Home to the ‘Action’” exclaimed Ebony. “Hazel Dorothy Scott Powell Bedin has, in the span of what might be considered a short lifetime, been many things: child prodigy, darling of café society, concert artist, civil rights pioneer, the wife of a famous and powerful man, mother, divorcee, expatriate.”1 Hazel returned to the United States the only way she knew how, ...

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Chapter 16. Reverie

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pp. 215-228

Strolling down 52nd Street, Hazel revisited her past: playing as an intermission pianist at the Yacht Club, standing in for Art Tatum at the Famous Door, being chased into the subway by Billie Holiday. These days she performed mostly in New York, traveling little. She played smaller rooms than in the old days; some were classy, ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 229-252

As with all projects that take years to come to fruition, this work has been helped along by the support and assistance of very special people. Foremost, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks and gratitude to Adam Clayton Powell III, whose extraordinary generosity, input, and support helped make this project possible. ...

Selected Discography and Filmography

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pp. 253-258

Bibliography

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pp. 259-262

Index

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pp. 263-278

Illustrations

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