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The hunt for a long-lost musical masterpiece

Perhaps more than any other artform, the 20th century was shaped by jazz. And piano player and composer Mary Lou Williams was there at nearly every turn. In recent years, historians have documented and dissected her career and its big impact on American music. But the final chapter of her life—spent teaching at Duke University—was shrouded in mystery. Until now.

Special thanks to Chris Pattishall for writing and performing the score for this episode.


  • Anthony Kelley, Professor of the Practice of Music at Duke University
  • Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant, Chair of the Music Department at Duke University
  • Tammy Kernodle, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Music at Miami University
  • Chris Pattishall, Grammy-nominated piano player and composer


  • Watch the Duke Wind Symphony perform Mary Lou Williams’ “History” here.
  • You can find a transcript of the episode here.
Jerad Walker is WUNC’s editor of narrative audio and podcasts. He joined the station in 2022 after nearly a decade at Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Anisa Khalifa is an award-winning podcast producer and host at WUNC. She grew up in a public radio household, and fell in love with podcasts shortly before her friends convinced her to start one with them about Korean dramas. Since joining WUNC in 2021, Anisa has produced Me and My Muslim Friends, CREEP, Tested and Dating While Gray, and is the host of WUNC's weekly podcast The Broadside.
Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
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