Oscar Pettiford born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, was a double bassist, cellist and composer known particularly for his pioneering work in bebop.
Pettiford's mother was Choctaw and his father was half Cherokee and half African American. Like many African Americans with Native American ancestry, his Native heritage was not generally known except to a few close friends (which included David Amram).
In 1942 he joined the Charlie Barnet band and in 1943 gained wider public attention after recording with Coleman Hawkins on his The Man I Love. He also recorded with Earl Hines and Ben Webster around this time. He and Dizzy Gillespie led a bop group in 1943. in 1945 Pettiford went with Hawkins to California, where he appeared in The Crimson Canary, a mystery movie known for its jazz soundtrack. He then worked with Duke Ellington from 1945 to 1948 and for Woody Herman in 1949 before working mainly as a leader in the 1950s.