Lee Shaw was born in Ada, Oklahoma. She began studying piano at the age of five. After graduating from high school, she attended the Oklahoma College for Women where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano. She earned her Master’s degree in piano at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. She also studied privately with concert pianist, Jesus Maria Sanroma in Puerto Rico. When she began playing piano in nightclubs in Chicago, she was sharing bills with the likes of Anita O’Day, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan. It was the 1950s, and fresh out of the conservatory, she drew mostly on her classical background, her encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs and her uncanny ability to play in any key.
On the job training and study with the great Oscar Peterson turned Shaw into the first-rate jazz pianist she later became. She has had her own trio for more than 40 years, during which time she has performed in clubs, concerts and festivals in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Shaw, who has lived in the Albany region for the last three decades, has been a guest on Marian McPartland’s NPR program “Piano Jazz” and appears frequently on WAMC’s Roundtable. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 1993. She is also an inductee of the Alumni Hall of Fame from the college from which she graduated.
The Lee Shaw Trio appeared at the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Festival in 1999 and will be appearing this coming June at the Saratoga Jazz Festival. In 2002, she was given an Honorary Doctorate by the College of Saint Rose.
Shaw has been adjunct faculty at the College of Saint Rose since 1983 and also teaches privately. Among her most accomplished students is John Medeski, keyboardist with Medeski, Martin and Wood.
1987: “Bring Home the Stars”
1988: “A Place for Jazz” Plaque Reads: “By Active presence as a musician and teacher, has added brilliance to the art of Jazz and to the quality of our lives”
1991: Hall of Fame Award
Capital Area Musician’s Association
1991: Lifetime Achievement Award
1993: Inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
1993: Lee Shaw Day; Hometown of Ada, Oklahoma
1999: Alumni Hall of Fame
University of Science and Art
2001: Swingtime Lifetime Achievement Award
2002: Honorary Doctorate
College of St. Rose
2005: Albany Musician’s Association
Certificate of Recognition for Excellence
“Musician, Jazz Educator, Superb Pianist and Teacher”