Beatrice Tyner’s Beauty Shop

McCoy Tyner grew up in West Philly. The family lived on the corner of May and Fairmount Avenue, above his mother’s beauty shop. It’s where Tyner composed “Blues on the Corner.” In an interview with Dr. Anthony Brown for the Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Project, the NEA Jazz Master shared that he held jam sessions in the beauty shop:

Tyner: Yeah the kitchen was . . . the living room-it wasn’t very big but it was right behind the beauty shop. And the beauty shop was a pretty large place because they had shampoos and they had these stations for people doing their hair. And then right behind that was that little small living room where we had the TV and everything. And then there was, after that, there was a kitchen, and then above all that were bedrooms upstairs; bed and bathroom upstairs. It was a nice location, and then my mother had to get in a cab to go any place. They drop her right downstairs (laughs) and that’s where my piano was. So sometimes-you know I had an R&B band in the beginning and we had jam sessions. I had quite a few jam sessions in my mother’s shop, and my mother would be doing hair and say, “Ah you guys go ahead play. It’s alright, it’s no problem”. So we would be in there and the ladies would be under the dryer patting their foot. … (laughs) a musical beauty shop!

Brown: So, they’re sitting under those hair dryers patting their feet and you guys are jamming?

Tyner: Jamming!

Brown: Right in the same room.

Tyner: Yeah, we were in the same room. She loved music anyway and she loved piano. I think she might have felt as though that’s what I was going to do. I think she saw the handwriting on the wall and so she didn’t discourage me. I took lessons and all that and I used to practice a lot. And then when I got the band, but she was very willing to let us go ahead and do our thing. That’s where I developed the skills of writing for other instruments.

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