Thanks to the Nubian Jak Community Trust another two* national heritage plaques have been erected. This time to honour the once celebrated but often forgotten Trinidadian pianist Winnifred Atwell who shot to fame in the 1950s with her fusion of ragtime, boogie-woogie and classical music. An alumna of the Royal Academy of Music, she was the first black instrumental artist to top the UK singles charts in 1954 with Let’s Have Another Party reaching the no. 1 spot and she remains to date the only female instrumentalist to have done so as well as selling over 20 million records.
An accomplished classical musician, she was also the first female pianist to receive the Royal Academy of Music’s highest grading for musicianship. Her hands were insured by Lloyds of London in 1952 for a whopping £40,000 – with a stipulation that she was never to wash dishes.
Winnifred Atwell was not only known for her music. She had a wide reputation within the Black community as a hairdresser, opening the first Black hair salon on Railton Road Brixton. She is fondly remembered by some who as youngsters were her clients. A shrewd business woman, she identified the need for Black hair stylists and being perfectly groomed herself she fulfilled that alongside her career as a celebrated musician.