All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Dorothy Donegan

Dorothy Donegan Dorothy Donegan

Dorothy Donegan is an NEA Jazz Master

Dorothy Donegan - piano

More than fifteen years have passed since the flamboyant jazz pianist Dorothy Donegan died. Sadly, few jazz fans, either then or now, are aware of what enormous orchestral capacity she had at the keyboard (1).

Dorothy was born in Chicago in 1924. Heeding her mother’s encouragement, she studied classical music at the Chicago Conservatory and the Chicago Music College. At eighteen, she became the first African-American to be asked to perform at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The event created enough interest to lead to some work in a film (Sensations of 1945) (2).

At the age of fourteen and studying classical piano she was also beginning her own jazz career, playing for a dollar a night at the city’s South Side bars (1) During a performance at the Hi-Jinx Club one evening, she met up with Art Tatum, who was so impressed with her abilities he became one of her champions. Despite her accomplishments in playing blues and boogie-woogie piano and making a recording for the Bluebird label, her love was for classical music and she hoped to be a classical concert pianist.

Dorothy never forgot her love of classical music so she continued her classical studies at the University of Southern California and taking Master Classes at the University of Maryland when performing in the Washington DC area. Her perseverance in both genre made her an exceptional pianist with a rich harmonic sense (2).

Read more

Tags

Photos

Albums

Watch

Similar

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.