NEW YORK (AP) — Marian McPartland, a UK-born jazz pianist and host of the National Public Radio show "Piano Jazz," has died in New York. She was 95.
An NPR spokeswoman says she died of natural causes Tuesday night at her home. Her career spanned more than six decades. She became a fixture in the jazz world as a talented musician and radio personality.
McPartland recorded more than 50 albums for the Concord Jazz label and played in venues across the U.S. In 1978, she brought her talent for composition and status as a jazz insider to radio and began hosting the Peabody Award-winning "Piano Jazz." On the show, she hosted hundreds of jazz professionals.
In 2007, the Kennedy Center named McPartland a Living Jazz Legend. Among her many recognitions, she was named an NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000. Born Margaret Marian Turner in England, she began playing classical piano at the age of 3. At 17, she was accepted to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music. She left in her third year to play piano with a touring vaudeville act — to the chagrin of her parents, who she said were "horrified."
She came to live in New York in 1953. She turned her keen ears toward her contemporaries, writing articles and essays that immortalized the people and places of the jazz world in the 1950s and '60s. In one essay, included in McPartland's collected works, "You've Come a Long Way, Baby," she wrote about her experiences as a woman striving to be taken seriously by male musicians.
"Once a man stood at the bar watching me intently, and when the set was finished he came over and said with a smile, 'You know, you can't be a respectable woman the way you play piano,'" she wrote. "For some reason or another, this struck me as a great compliment."
McPartland continued to tour and perform into her 80s. "I can't walk. I'm in miserable pain. But at the piano, I don't feel a thing," McPartland said during one appearance.