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16th Annual The Kennedy Center Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival May 19 - 21, 2011
Hosted by
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Dee Dee Bridgewater

  • Cassandra WilsonCassandra Wilson
  • Dianne Reeves Dianne Reeves
  • Terri Lyne Carrington Terri Lyne Carrington

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Left to right: Jamie Baum, FIVE PLAY,
Tia Fuller, Corky Hale, JaLaLa, Marlena Shaw,
Peggy Stern, "Sweet" Sue Terry

Performance Information

The Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival marks its 16th thrilling year with three evenings of star-studded performances hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater featuring the world's top female jazz artists.

7 p.m. each night in the Terrace Theater

May 20 & 21 on the Millennium Stage, Explore the Arts presents in a free Showcase the exceptional pianists selected as the second annual class of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Emerging Artist Workshop.

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About the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

Since the first concerts in 1996, the annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival—founded by the late Dr. Billy Taylor (1921–2010), Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz—has showcased the world’s most respected and accomplished female jazz artists, from the well known to the young and up-and-coming.

For these musicians, Mary Lou Williams has served as their inspiration to leave their mark on every aspect of jazz, just as she did. Dubbed the "First Lady of Jazz Piano," she wrote music for Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, performed with Ben Webster and Lester Young, and was a mentor to Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, and many others. As a pianist, composer, arranger, teacher, mentor, and humanitarian, Williams defied gender, race, and category with her inexhaustible gifts.

Mary Lou Williams once said, "If we are to make progress in modern music, we must be willing and able to open our minds to new ideas and developments." The Kennedy Center invites you to join us in paying homage to America’s original art form, both past and present. Each evening features three unique sets of remarkable female jazz musicians performing with their own ensembles. These jazz pioneers keep the spirit of Mary Lou Williams alive!

Watch and Listen

Past Festival Concerts on the Millennium Stage

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