Donald Walbridge Shirley was an American classical and jazz pianist and composer. He recorded many albums for Cadence during the 1950s and 1960s, experimenting with jazz with a classical influence. He wrote organ symphonies, piano concerti, a cello concerto, three string quartets, a one-act opera, works for organ, piano and violin, a symphonic tone poem based on the novel Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, and a set of Variations on the legend of Orpheus in the Underworld.
Born in Pensacola, Florida, Shirley was a promising young student of classical piano. Although he did not achieve recognition in his early career playing traditional classical music, he found success with his blending of various musical traditions.
During the 1960s, Shirley went on a number of concert tours, some in Deep South states. For a year and a half, he hired New York nightclub bouncer Tony Lip Vallelonga as his driver and bodyguard. Their story was controversially dramatized in the 2018 film Green Book.