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Mary Jefferson, singerCopyright © 2002
Mary Jefferson was a popular singer in the Washington D.C. area. She grew up in the city at a time when major jazz stars regularly played the Howard Theatre. Her father worked there, and she was able to both hear and meet artists like Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Lionel Hampton, who taught her to tap dance on the sidewalk outside.
She was equally at home in both jazz and blues. Despite a tough life and involvement with drugs, bad health and poverty, she maintained a hard-earned reputation as a reliable entertainer.
She was awarded the distinction of Ambassador of the Blues by the D.C. Commission of the Arts and Humanities in 1988. She was also an accomplished film and television actor, and a longtime community activist and cultural historian. A scholarship fund has been established in her name at Howard University.