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Born as Mary Elfrieda Scruggs in Atlanta Georgia Mary Lou Williams grew up in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania one of eleven children. She accepted an appointment at Duke University as artist-in-residence (from 1977 to 1981) co-teaching the History of Jazz with Father Peter O'Brien and directing the Duke Jazz Ensemble. The group now known as Andy Kirk's "Twelve Clouds of Joy" relocated to Tulsa Oklahoma where Williams spent her free time transporting bodies for an undertaker.
Mary Lou Williams (May 8 1910 – May 28 1981) was an American jazz pianist composer and arranger. Williams wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements and recorded more than one hundred records (in 78 45 and LP versions). Williams wrote and arranged for such bandleaders as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman and Mary Lou Williams was friend mentor and teacher to Thelonious Monk Charlie Parker Miles Davis Tadd Dameron Dizzy Gillespie and many others.