Person    | Female  Born 1910  Died 28/2/1983

Winifred Atwell

Pianist. Born Una Winifred Atwell in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago. Her birth date is given as either the 27th of February or April in either 1910 or 1914. She began playing the piano from an early age, but initially trained to be a pharmacist.

In the early 1940s She went to study in the USA and moved to London in 1946 where she trained at the Royal Academy of Music, becoming the first woman pianist to be awarded the academy's highest grade. She played in clubs in order to support her studies, and was spotted by Bernard Delfont, who gave her a long-term contract. Her recordings became popular and her 'Black and White Rag' propelled her to national fame.

In 1956, at the peak of her career she opened the UK's first black hair and beauty salon, at the site of the plaques.

She was the first black artist to have a number one hit in the UK, and is still (2020) the only female instrumentalist to have done so. Starting in 1956 she had her own television series in which she occasionally played classical music, but usually played 'honky-tonk' on what she called her 'other piano'. She toured Australia many times and eventually settled there.

Credit for this entry to: Alan Patient of www.plaquesoflondon.co.uk

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Winifred Atwell

Commemorated ati

Winifred Atwell - black plaque

Winifred Atwell, 1914 - 1983, first black person to have a number one hit in ...

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Winifred Atwell - blue plaque

Multimillion disc selling piano impresario, Winifred Atwell, 1914 - 1983, ope...

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