Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band

Screens Wednesday, April 6, 5:00pm – Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies

Carol Bash Headshot credit Maya Gilliam

(Photo courtesy Maya Gilliam)

Carol Bash, Producer and Director

Carol Bash is the Founder and President of Paradox Films. Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band, is the company’s premier project. The documentary will be broadcast nationally on PBS in 2015. Also in development are: the Gaze Project, an interactive visual installation; and We Want Possible, a documentary on the social challenges and growth of assistive technology for people with disabilities.
Carol has worked with several prestigious documentary production companies in roles ranging from Producer, Director, Cinematographer, Coordinating Producer, Archival Researcher and Associate Producer. Most notably, she worked with Firelight Films on Freedom Riders, which won three time Primetime Emmy awards; and A Place of Our Own, which premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Carol also worked with Two-Tone Productions on Banished, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. And she has worked with Kunhardt Productions on the groundbreaking four-part PBS series, African American Lives.

Prior to her career as an independent filmmaker, she worked in broadcast television at CBS News.


About Mary Lou Williams: The Woman Who Swings the Band

Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band is a story of tragedy and triumph seen through the eyes of a prodigy. We journey the 20th century through the lens of one of its leading jazz musicians who is determined to create in a world that could not see past her race or gender.   Mary Lou Williams was ahead of her time, a genius. During an era when jazz was the nation’s popular music, she was one of its greatest innovators. As both a pianist and composer, she was a wellspring of daring and creativity who helped shape the sound of 20th century America.  And like the dynamic, turbulent nation in which she lived, Williams seemed to re-define herself with every passing decade.  From child prodigy to “Boogie-Woogie Queen” to groundbreaking composer to mentoring some of the greatest musicians of all time, Mary Lou Williams never ceased to astound those who heard her play.  But away from the piano, Williams was a woman in a “man’s world,” a black person in a “whites only” society, an ambitious artist who dared to be different and struggled against the imperatives of being a “star.”  Above all, she did not fit the (still) prevailing notions of where genius comes from or what it looks like. Time and again, she pushed back against a world that said, “You can’t” and said, “I can.”  It nearly cost her everything.