Una Winifred Atwell 27 February or 27 April or [nb 1] — 28 February was a Trinidadian pianist who enjoyed great popularity in Britain and Australia from the s with a series of boogie-woogie and ragtime hits, selling over 20 million records.
Atwell was born in Tunapuna in Trinidad and Tobago. She and her parents lived in Jubilee Street. Her family owned a pharmacy and she trained as a pharmacist herself and was expected to join the family business.
She played the piano from a young age and achieved considerable popularity locally. She played for American servicemen at the Air Force base which is now the main airport.
It was while playing at the Servicemen's Club at Piarco that someone bet her that she could not play something in the boogie-woogie style that was popular back home in the United States. Atwell left Trinidad in the early s and travelled to the United States to study with Alexander Borovsky and, inmoved to London, where she had gained a place at What Kind Of Fool Am I - Winifred Atwell - Winifred Atwell Royal Academy of Music.
She became the first female pianist to be awarded the academy's highest grading for musicianship. These modest beginnings in variety would one day see her topping the bill at the London Palladium.
She said later, "I starved in a garret to get onto concert stages. Atwell attracted attention with an unscheduled appearance at the Casino Theatre, where she substituted for an ill star. Two Romances For Violin And Orchestra - G Major, Op.
40 - Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Ludwig van Be caught the eye of entrepreneur Bernard Delfontwho put her on a long-term contract. She released three discs that were well received. The third, "Jezebel", went to the top of the bestseller lists. A complex arrangement called "Cross Hands Boogie" was released to show her virtuoso rhythmic technique, but it was the B-sidea s tune written by George Botsford called " Black and White Rag ", that was to become a radio standard.
The rag was originally performed on a concert grand for the occasion, but Atwell felt it did not sound right, My Generation - Various - Ultimate Collectors Edition Woodstock: 3 Days Of Peace And Music: The Dire so got her husband to buy a honky tonk piano for 30 shillings, which would then be used for the released version of the song.
Atwell's husband, former stage comedian Lew Levisohn, was vital in shaping her career as a variety star. The two had met inand married soon after. They were inseparable up to Levisohn's death in Hong Kong in December ; they had no children. He had cannily made the choice, for stage purposes, of her playing first a concert grand, then a beaten-up old upright piano. The latter was purchased from a Battersea junk shop for 50 shillings.
This became famous as "my other piano". It would later feature all over the world, from Las Vegas to the Sydney Opera Housetravelling over half a million miles Buscame - Eydie Gormé & Danny Rivera - Muy Amigos / Close Friends air throughout Atwell's concert career.
While contributing to a posthumous BBC radio appreciation of Atwell's career, Richard Stilgoe revealed that he was now the owner of the famous "other piano". When Atwell first came to Britain, she initially earned only a few pounds a week. Byher popularity had spread Real Love (Radio Edit) - Various - Jazzy Lounge. She was by far the biggest selling pianist of her time.
She is the only holder of two gold and two silver discs for piano music in Britain, and was the first black artist in the UK to sell a million records. It was during this period that she discovered Matt Monro and persuaded Decca to sign him. Atwell's peak was the second half of the s, during which her concerts drew standing room only crowds in Europe and Australasia. She played three Royal Variety Performancesappeared in every capital city in Europe, and played for over twenty million people.
She became a firm television favourite. She had her own series in Britain. On a third triumphal tour of Australia, she recorded her own Australian television series, screened in — Her breakthrough appearance was to have been on The Ed Sullivan Show inbut on arrival in America she was confronted with problems of selling the show in the south with a British-sounding black woman. The appearance was never recorded. InAtwell arrived in Australia and was greeted as an international celebrity.
She toured Australia many times and took on Australian guitarist Jimmy Doyle as her musical director in the s. She was accompanied by the Cy Bevan Group, who were with her then current radio series "Pianorama". From Monday, 17 Septemberfor one week only, she gave twice nightly performances at the Brighton Hippodrome. Also appearing with her on the same bill was Ronnie Carrolla radio and television recording star.
However, her popularity in Australia led to her settling in Sydney in the s. She became an Australian citizen two years before her death. Keith Emerson noted her influence on his playing in an interview: "I've always been into ragtime. In England—and I'm sure Rick Wakeman would concur—we loved Winifred Atwell, a fantastic honky-tonk and ragtime player.
Atwell was also a skilled interpreter of classical music. The two-channel version engineered by Decca's Roy Wallace appears not to have been released, but a transfer of the Decca LP mono LF has been produced and issued by Pristine Audio as an available download.
Atwell bought an apartment on the beach front in the Flightdeck at Collaroy in Sydney, as jumping-off bases for What Kind Of Fool Am I - Winifred Atwell - Winifred Atwell worldwide performance commitments. She was a member of the Moby Dick Surfer's Club at Whale Beach where she performed regularly in support of the surf club. Enjoying the affection of the public, she was nevertheless keenly aware of prejudice and injustice and was outspoken about racism in Australia.
She always donated her services in a charity concert on Sundays, the proceeds going to orphanages and needy children. She spoke out against the third world conditions endured by Australian Aborigineswhich made headlines during an outback tour of the country in Dismissing racism as a factor in her own life, she said she felt she was "spoiled very much by the public. Atwell also created headlines in the s with her dieting slimming from sixteen to twelve stone on what would today be called a protein diet.
She played her "other" piano at the end of the show with a few bars from "Black and White Rag" after the piano being in retirement for many years. Though a dynamic stage personality, Atwell was, in person, a shy, retiring and soft-spoken What Kind Of Fool Am I - Winifred Atwell - Winifred Atwell of modesty. Eloquent and intellectual, she was well read and, unlike many in the world of professional showbusiness, keenly interested in and informed about issues and current events.
Voracious in her reading habits and a What Kind Of Fool Am I - Winifred Atwell - Winifred Atwell of crosswords, she confessed to an inordinate love of mangoes, a dislike of new shoes, and a keen interest in televised cricket she The Sentance - The Concretes - Hey Trouble England.
Atwell often returned to her native Trinidad, and on one occasion she bought a house in Saint Augustinea home she adored and later renamed Winvilla and which was later turned into the Pan Pipers Music School by one of her students, Louise McIntosh. In the early s, Atwell's sense of loss following her husband's death made her consider returning to Trinidad to live, but she found the weather too hot.
Atwell suffered a stroke What Kind Of Fool Am I - Winifred Atwell - Winifred Atwell She officially retired on The Mike Walsh Showthen Australia's highest rating television variety programmein She categorically stated that she would retire and not return as a public performer, and that she had had an excellent career. Her only non-private performances from this point were as an organist in her parish church at Narrabeen.
Infollowing an electrical fire that destroyed her Narrabeen home, she suffered a heart attack and died while staying with friends in Seaforth.
In she was awarded Trinidad and Tobago's national award, the Gold Hummingbird Medalfor her achievements in music. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Trinidad and Tobago portal. Many sources suggest 27 Februarybut there is a strong suggestion that her birthday was 27 April.
Most sources give her year of birth asbut her gravestone states that she died at the age of 73, suggesting that she was born in Retrieved 12 February Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. Retrieved 1 May London: Guinness World Records Limited. British Fuck Da Game - Various Hosted By Bashy - Street Beats Vol. 14 Institute. Winifred Atwell.
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