Alice McLeod was born on August 27, 1937, in Alabama
and grew up in a musical household in Detroit
. Her mother, Anna McLeod, was a member of the choir at her church, and her half brother, Ernest Farrow, was a notable jazz bassist. With the motivation of Ernest, Alice pursued music and started to perform in various clubs around Detroit, until moving to Paris in the late 1950s. Alice studied classical music
, and also jazz with Bud Powell
in Paris, where she worked as the intermission pianist at the Blue Note Jazz Club
in 1960. It was there that she was broadcast on French television in a performance with Lucky Thompson
, Pierre Michelot
and Kenny Clarke
She married Kenny “Pancho” Hagood
in 1960 and had a daughter with him.
The marriage ended soon after, on account of Hagood’s developing heroin addiction, and Alice was forced to move back to Detroit with her daughter.
She continued playing jazz as a professional in Detroit, with her own trio and as a duo with vibist Terry Pollard
. In 1962–63 she played with Terry Gibbs
‘ quartet, during which time she met John Coltrane
. In 1965 they were married in Juárez
, Mexico. John Coltrane became stepfather to Alice’s daughter Michelle, and the couple had three children together: John Jr. (1964–1982, a drummer); Ravi
(b. 1965, a saxophonist); and Oranyan (b. 1967, a DJ
). Oranyan later played saxophone with Santana
for a period of time.