Retrospective: The Musical Legacy of Shirley Walker

What do Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman have in common besides creative genius and widespread popularity? They were either mentored or collaborated with an overlooked heroine of female representation in film, composer Shirley Walker. She is perhaps best known for creating the theme for the horror film series, “Final Destination” but achieved so much more. She truly deserves greater appreciation and recognition for her leadership as a woman in a field dominated by men as well as for her prolific body of work. Walker was so gifted as a pianist that she played with the San Francisco Symphony while still a teenager. Not content to be just an accompanist, she branched out into conducting and composing. It cannot be stressed enough how radical and trailblazing her ambition was for a woman in the 1960’s. Even today, women conductors are rare and women composers equally, if not more so. Her first screen credit came when her skills with a keyboard landed her a job playing with Carmine Coppola in “Apocalypse Now” (1979).

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