Born in England on the 20th of March, 1918 Marian McPartland (née Turner) started piano lessons around the age of three. She went on to become one of the great jazz pianists of the last 100 years. This year she'll be 95 years old.
After studying at the famous Guildhall School of Music, Marian began touring Europe in World War II as part of a four piano vaudeville act entertaining the troops. It was during this time she met her future husband, the cornet player Jimmy McPartland, and accompanied him back to the United States in 1946. Over the next 30 years Marian enjoyed much success as part of a trio, a soloist, and recording artist, even establishing her own recording label in 1970.
In 1978, Marian McPartland got the chance to take over from Alec Wilder's National Public Radio (NPR) show and Piano Jazz was founded. In the show Marian would take jazz musicians sit them down at a piano with her and interview them. Despite Marian stepping down as the host in 2011, the show is one of NPR's longest running, and is still going strong after more than 30 years thanks to the success and talents of Marian, who is still artistic director of the program.
Marian talks about her introduction to jazz and the success of her radio show in this interview:
Five years ago, at the age of 90, Marian celebrated by taking to the stage guests at her birthday celebrations, performing with the likes of Norah Jones and releasing another album, Twilight World. We hope she enjoys this birthday just as much!