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Terry Jean Pollard Music  Foundation Inc.


Terry Jean Pollard was born in Detroit Michigan, August 15th, 1931. She began playing piano at age 3. By the age of 16, Terry was playing professionally. She was part of the very fertile Detroit Jazz music scene in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Terry’s first professional recordings were with Billy Mitchell in 1948 (the year she graduated from nursing school). Terry Pollard was an integral part of the Detroit jazz scene as she participated in making American Jazz history.


In 1952 while performing in a Detroit Jazz club called the Bee Hive, she was discovered by Jazz legion Terry Gibbs. He was mesmerized by her skillful talent and asked her to join his International tour. Terry accepted and immediately became a well-received member of The Terry Gibbs Quartet where she played piano and second vibes. The Terry Gibbs Quartet featuring Terry Pollard toured nationwide between 1952 - 1960. In those 8 years, Terry Gibbs also recorded 5 albums featuring Terry Pollard.


She performed with many of the up and coming groundbreaking players known today as Jazz legends. Johnny Hill, Emmit Slay, Barry Harris, Billy Mitchell and Dick Garcia. She also performed with the well-known giants at that time...John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, Chet Baker and Nat King Cole.


While touring with Terry Gibbs, she was offered a recording contract with Bethlehem Records and recorded one self-entitled solo album released in 1955.  She made a historic performance as well being the first  African American female Jazz artist to appear on the NBC’s Tonight Show with Terry Gibbs and then host Steve Allen. Also in 1956, Terry won the prestigious Downbeat Magazine New Artist (on Vibraphones) award. Outdueling the great Milt Jackson. Terry Pollard gained the respect from all the greatest of the greats at the famous Birdland Stars of 57’ concert in New York City. Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald to name a few.


Terry Pollard has recorded and performed with Detroit Jazz greats...Yusef Lateef, Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby from 1958 - 1960. In the mid-'60s, she also worked with Motown Records performing with Diana Ross and the Supremes. Terry was also a featured member of the great Jimmy Wilkins Orchestra. Terry Pollard won many awards during her career and was inducted into the Michigan Jazz Hall of Fame as a lifetime member.  Terry Pollard held a 60-year membership with the Detroit Federation of Musicians Union Local 5. Most recently she's featured in a book by Terry Gibbs “Good Vibes".  Also the book “Before Motown and the book A History of Jazz in Detroit” by Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert. Terry Pollard is highlighted in the award-winning documentary, “The Girls In The Band” by Judy Chaikin. Her skills on piano and vibraphones are still remembered today by hardcore jazz music enthusiasts.


Until her last days, she practiced every day with one hand and was still better than most with two. Simply Amazing! Terry transcended December 16th, 2009. Her tragic illness in 1978, resulted in the entire left side of her body paralyzed. It kept her from performing. In 1979, a tribute was given in her honor with a who's who in the Jazz World performing for her hosted by Steve Allen. Including an international stunning array of guest that participated in the event. The last major event dedicated to Terry was from the legendary  Barry Harris in 2007. In honor of Terry, he performed with a cast of special guest at her residence in Riverdale, New York. 


I personally thank all of you for reviewing this information on the legacy of my mother Terry Jean Pollard. A humble and sincere musical talent.


Michael Weeden


Terry Jean Pollard Music Foundation Inc.














 Historic 1956 Live NBC Tonight Show Performance 

Hollywood MEDIA




by Lara Pellegrinelli

I recommend that jazz fans see The Girls in the Band; the film is a respectful treatment of its subject, and the best visual resource available. But if you'd like to get to know this thread of jazz history better, here are some other materials worth exploring viewing Footage of even the most renowned jazz musicians can be rare, gender aside. Even though the clips in The Girls in the Band tend to be grievously short — brief flashes of technical brilliance that prove these women were as good as the boys, but reveal little else — their sheer number and variety is the film's greatest strength. You won't find all of this material in the same place anywhere else, at least not yet, and it's especially gratifying to connect a name with a performance. For example, Geri Allen never fails in interviews to acknowledge the debt she owes to fellow Detroit pianist and vibraphonist Terry Pollard; how amazing it is to even get a glimpse of her playing in The Girls in the Band.

Of course, if you know who you're looking for, plenty of bits and pieces are out there on YouTube. Take Pollard's performance with Terry Gibbs on the Tonight Show in 1956.









There weren't many female jazz players and the few that were around mostly played piano. Ladies like Marian Partland and Barbara Carroll played well but as the old cliche goes..." They were good for a girl." They didn't play that hard bebop articulation that Terry played with. She sounded like a man. Terry was the first female I ever heard swing that hard. She also played the vibes. She played the heck out of the vibes. In fact, I don't think there are many vibe players today as hard as Terry Pollard could in 1953.



I remember when I was in high school in Detroit. I went to Cass Tech. And at the time (pianist) Terry was playing with (vibraphonist) Terry Gibbs and I got to see her at Masonic Temple. That was a breakthrough moment for me because I was playing jazz and had been embraced by musicians on the scene. (trumpeter) Marcus Belgrave and musicians like that. But then seeing her and how fierce she was really impressed me. She commanded the bandstand in a way that I will never forget. 



One of my friends Terry Pollard, was also from Detroit and she was a good friend of my brother and a little older than myself, so I looked up to her as a sister. Terry Gibbs and Terry had such a fine performance on the vibes between themselves. It made headlines in magazines and there were really nice write-ups about it, and they'd call her the Queen Of The Vibes at the time. We were very proud of her because she was really good. A very close and dear friend. Her playing was very inspirational. She was blessed with pure talent. One of the best!

we LOVyou!



Educational information on a historic female African American Jazz musician. Pioneer, articulate, and just simply amazing are words in describing her exceptional talent on vibraphone and piano. One of our foundation goals in sustaining the legacy of Terry is to ask for the support of Churches, African American Jazz Music Museums, Communities of Detroit, African American public and private school educators to please consider adding Terry Jean Pollard to your Black History conversations of important female African Americans. 


∆  Born in Detroit Michigan August 15, 1931 - December 16, 2009
  Lived in the Conant Gardens Community of Detroit.
  Began playing piano by ear at age 3.
  Began playing professionally at age 16.
  Started touring and recording with Terry Gibbs at age of 21.

   The following recordings were recorded between 1954-1961. These recordings are considered in the Jazz music world as classic

    recordings of the great era of be-bop music. Terry Jean

    Pollard is featured on these classic recordings:

  Solo Album titled Terry Pollard


   These Terry Gibbs Albums_
∆  Terry Gibbs Quartet
  Vibes On Velvet
  Mallets Of Plenty

 Clark Terry and Terry Pollard_

    Cats And Chicks_

   Yusef Lateef_

    Yusef Lateef's Detroit

    The Dreamer

    The Fabric of Jazz

 Dorothy Ashby_
    Soft Winds

Book Appearances

  Good Vibes  Terry Gibbs
∆  Encyclopedia Of Jazz   Leonard Feather
  Before Motown  Lars Bjorn
  History of Jazz  Pt.1  Ted Gioia 
  Black Women In American Bands And Orchestras  

D. Antoinette  Hardy
  Birdland To Broadway   Bill Crow


1953 Historic New York City Birdland Tour featuring Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn, and many others.

 1955 Recorded first and only solo album at age 24.

 1956 Won Downbeat Magazine New Artist On Vibes Award-winning over Milt Jackson.

 1956 An Historic television featured appearance on the NBC Show starring Steve Allen.

1979 State Of Michigan House of Representatives Resolution No.234  In her honor.

 1979 State Of Michigan Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 312 In her honor.

 1989 Awarded Detroit Graystone International Jazz Museum Hall of Fame.


1995 Mayor of Detroit Certificate Of Appreciation Award. Legends of     

1995 Office of Wayne County Distinguished Service Award.


 2000 60-Year Membership of Local 5 Detroit Musicians Union.


 2005  The Barry Award from Barry Harris for true jazz mastery.


  2012 International Award Winning presentation and educational DVD Girls In The Band.


∆ 2014 The Terry Jean Pollard Music Foundation Inc. was founded by her son  Michael Weeden to continue her legacy and contribution to American Jazz Music.


 ∆ 2016 Awarded the James Tatum Foundation for the Arts       

  Distinguished Jazz Award.


 ∆ 2018 Induction into the Charles H. Wright Museum Of African             American History.

 ∆ 2018 Street Sign named in her honor Terry

   Pollard Drive in her hometown of Detroit.

   Thank You for taking the time to read this very important request of ours regarding your help and support in our goals to help promote and sustain the legacy of Terry Jean Pollard.

   Terry Jean Pollard Music Foundation Inc. 
   Michael Weeden


Terry Jean Pollard Being Honored in 2018 UK Women In Jazz Exhibition


Dr.Yoko Suzuki & University Of Pittsburgh Honors TJP Time Life

State Of Michigan and City Of Detroit Honor TJP

Terry Jean Pollard Music Foundation Inc.© 2018  For more information on our jazz event fundraisers or Music Is Fundamental lessons, please visit or contact   Attn: Michael Weeden Thank you for your support and Keep Jazz Alive!

Charles H. Wright Museum Of African American History
MOM _ 35 .jpeg

Terry Jean Pollard Music Foundation Inc. © 2023

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