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Mary Lou Williams: Readings

Guide for jazz pianist, arranger, and composer Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams with Fr. Peter F. O'Brien, S.J.

Selected Readings

Buehrer, Theodore E. Mary Lou Williams: Selected Works for Big Band. Series: Music of the United States of America, Book 25. A-R Editions, 2013.


Dahl, Linda. Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams. New York: Pantheon, 1999.


Dance, Stanley. “An Afternoon with Mary Lou Williams.” (1964 interview) Jazz Journal International, October 1989: 8-10.


Fledderus, France. The Function of Oral Traditional Tradition in Mary Lou’s Mass by Mary Lou Williams. Master’s thesis, University of North Texas, 1996.


Griffin, Farah Jasmine. Harlem NocturneL Woman Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II. Basie Civitas Books, 2013. Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of Progressive Politics of English, Comparative Literature and African-American Literature at Columbia University surveys the lives and contributions of Mary Lou Williams, dancer and choreographer Pearl Prima , and novelist Ann Petry.


Hall, James Cameron. There is No Deed but Memory: African-American Antimodernism and the American Sixties. PhD dissertation, University of Iowa, 1992. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1992. 9318438.


Jelks, Randal. Faith and Struggle: The Lives of Four African Americans: Ethel Waters, Mary Lou Williams, Eldridge Cleaver and Muhammed Ali. Bloomsbury Press, 2019.


Kaplan, Erica. The Lady Who Swings the Band: A Performance and Analysis of Six Works by American Pianist/Composer Mary Lou Williams. Master’s thesis, New York University, 1987.

Selected Readings

Kernodle, Tammy L. ‘Anything You Are Shows Up in Your Music’: Mary Lou Williams and the Sanctification of Jazz. PhD dissertation, Ohio State University, 1997. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1997. 9731653.


--Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams. Northeastern University Press, 2004.


O’Brien, Peter F. Mary Lou Williams: The Asch Recordings, 1944-47. Liner notes. Folkways Records FA-2966, 1977.


--Nite Life, Chiaroscuro CR 103, 1998. Liner notes.


Pickeral, Charles W. The Masses of Mary Lou Williams: The Evolution of a Liturgical Style. PhD dissertation. Texas Tech University, 1998. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1998. 9912788.


Placksin, Sally. American Women in Jazz, 1990 to the Present: Their Words and Lives in Music. New York: Wideview Books, 1982.


--“Mary Lou Williams.: Article. Reading Jazz: A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage, and Criticism from 1919 to Now. Robert Gottlieb, ed. New York: Pantheon Books: 87-116. Edited version of ten autobiographical essays by Williams, published between April 3, 1954 and June 12, 1954 in the British jazz magazine, Melody Maker.

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