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