Scott, James (Sylvester)

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Scott, James (Sylvester)

Scott, James (Sylvester), significant black American ragtime pianist and composer; b. Neosoho, Mo., Feb. 12, 1885; d. Kansas City, Kans., Aug. 30, 1938. He received music lessons from John Coleman in Neosoho. After the family went to Carthage, Mo., he became active as a pianist in various local haunts. In 1902 he began working for the Dumars Music Co., which publ. his first rags; he gained his first success with his Frog Legs Rag (1906); his finest rag, Grace and Beauty, was publ. in 1909. About 1920, after travels as a ragtime pianist, he settled in Kansas City, where he was active as a teacher, theater musician, and bandleader. Although relatively unknown in his day, Scott is now recognized as one of the leading ragtime composers of his era.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire