Born in Port of Spain, Hazel was taken at the age of four by her mother to New York City. Recognized early as a musical prodigy, Scott was given scholarships from the age of eight to study at the Juilliard School. She began performing in a jazz band in her teens and was performing on radio at age 16.
She was prominent as a jazz singer throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In 1950, she became the first black person to have a TV show, The Hazel Scott Show, featuring a variety of entertainment. Her career in America faltered after she testified before the House Un-American Activities Committeeduring the McCarthy era. Scott subsequently moved to Paris in the late 1950s and performed in France, not returning to the United States until 1967.