Winifred Atwell was one of the stars of the early British charts when they were introduced for the first time in the 1950s, playing an upright piano in a boogie-woogie style of ragtime. She was born on February 27, 1914, in Tunapuna on the island of Trinidad. Her father owned a pharmacy, and although the young Winifred was trained in chemistry and was expected to join the family business, she was always more interested in performing for U.S. servicemen either at the air base or a local club, Piarco. Having trained from a very early age on the piano, she was proficient enough to satisfy the troops stationed in the Caribbean, when someone asked her to play in the popular style of boogie-woogie. When she returned to the club, she had written the song "Piarco Boogie," which was later to be retitled "Five Finger Boogie." Atwell moved to America in the early '40s to study the piano with Alexander Borovsky and later to London, where she studied at the Royal Academy of Music and became the first female pianist to be awarded the highest grade for musicianship. Supplementing her income while studying, she played ragtime at various London clubs and was spotted at the Casino Theatre by entrepreneur Bernard Delfont, who signed her to a recording contract with Decca Records.