Betty Smith

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b. 6 July 1929, Sileby, Lincolnshire, England. After studying piano and tenor saxophone as a child, Smith concentrated on the latter instrument at the start of her professional career. In the early 50s…
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b. 6 July 1929, Sileby, Lincolnshire, England. After studying piano and tenor saxophone as a child, Smith concentrated on the latter instrument at the start of her professional career. In the early 50s she played in Freddy Randall’s popular traditional band, but her real forte was in the mainstream. From the late 50s she regularly led her own small group and also played and sang with the Ted Heath band. Her solo career continued through the next two decades and in the 70s she was one of the highlights of the touring package ‘The Best Of British Jazz’. In the 80s she was still active and playing as well as ever. An outstanding performer, Smith is one of only a few women of her generation to overcome successfully the offensive yet seemingly immovable prejudice against women instrumentalists in jazz. The quality of her playing and the high standards she has set herself reveal the absurdity of such prejudices.