Billy Taylor
Name: Billy Taylor
Occupation: Pianist
Gender: Male
Birth Day: July 24, 1921
Age: 99
Country: United States
Zodiac Sign: Leo

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Billy Taylor

Billy Taylor was born on July 24, 1921 in United States (99 years old). Billy Taylor is a Pianist, zodiac sign: Leo. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.


He started The Jazz Foundation in 1989 with Ann Ruckert, Herb Storfer, and Phoebe Jacobs to provide aid for elderly jazz and blues musicians.

Net Worth 2020

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Before Fame

He began his studies at Virginia State College, majoring in sociology, but eventually switched to music.


Biography Timeline


Taylor attended Dunbar High School, the U.S.'s first high school for African-American students. He went to Virginia State College and majored in sociology. During his time he joined Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Pianist Undine Smith Moore noticed young Taylor's talent in piano and he changed his major to music, graduating with a degree in music in 1942.


Taylor returned to New York later that year and cooperated with Bob Wyatt and Sylvia Syms at the Royal Roost jazz club and Billie Holiday in a successful show called Holiday on Broadway. A year later, he became the house pianist at Birdland and performed with Charlie Parker, J.J. Johnson, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. Taylor played at Birdland longer than any other pianist in the history of the club. In 1949, Taylor published his first book, a textbook about bebop piano styles.


In 1952, Taylor composed one of his most famous tunes, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free", which achieved more popularity with the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Nina Simone covered the song in her 1967 album Silk & Soul. The tune is widely known in the UK as a piano instrumental version, used for BBC Television's long-running Film... programme. He made dozens of recordings in the 1950s and 1960s, including Billy Taylor Trio with Candido with Cuban percussionist Candido Camero, My Fair Lady Loves Jazz, Cross Section and Taylor Made Jazz.


In 1958, he became music director of NBC's The Subject Is Jazz, the first television series focusing on jazz. The 13-part series was produced by the new National Educational Television Network with guests such as Duke Ellington, Aaron Copland, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Rushing, and Langston Hughes. Taylor also worked as a DJ and programme director on radio station WLIB in New York in the 1960s. During the 1960s, the Billy Taylor Trio was a regular feature of the Hickory House on West 55th Street in Manhattan. From 1969 to 1972, he served as music director for The David Frost Show and was the first African-American to lead a talk-show band. Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, and Buddy Rich were just a few of the musicians who played on the show.


In 1964, he established Jazzmobile in New York City as a way to promote jazz through educational programmes. In 1981, Jazzmobile produced a jazz special for National Public Radio, for which the programme received the Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting Programs. Jazzmobile's 1990 Tribute Concert to Taylor at Avery Fisher Hall, part of the JVC Jazz Festival, featured Nancy Wilson, Ahmad Jamal Trio, and Terence Blanchard Quintet.


Engaging and educating more audience and young people was a central part of Taylor's career. He was the Wilbur D. Barrett Chair of Music at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale. Besides publishing instructional books on jazz, he taught jazz courses at Howard University, Long Island University, the Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he had studied under Roland Wiggins and earned his Master's and PhD in 1975.


In 1981, after being profiled by CBS News Sunday Morning, Taylor was hired as an on-air correspondent and then conducted more than 250 interviews with musicians. He received an Emmy Award for his segment on the multi-talented Quincy Jones.

Taylor had more than 20 honorary doctoral degrees and was the recipient of two Peabody Awards for Jazzmobile, NEA Jazz Masters Award (1998), an Emmy Award (1983) for carrying out over 250 interviews for CBS News Sunday Morning, a Grammy Award (2004) Down Beat magazine's Lifetime Achievement award (1984), National Medal of Arts (1992), and the Tiffany Award (1991). In 1981, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the Berklee College of Music.


In 1989, Taylor formed his own "Taylor Made" record label to document his own music. You Tempt Me (1996), by his 1985 trio (with Victor Gaskin and drummer Curtis Boyd), includes a rendition of Ellington's "Take the "A" Train". White Nights (1991) has Taylor, Gaskin, and drummer Bobby Thomas performing live from Leningrad in the Soviet Union. Then came Solo (1992), and Jazzmobile Allstars (1992). In 1997, he received the New York State Governor's Art Award.


He was honored in 2001 with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Jazz Living Legend Award, and election to the Hall of Fame for the International Association for Jazz Education. He served as artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he developed many critically acclaimed concert series, including the Louis Armstrong Legacy series, and the annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. In addition, he performed at the White House seven times and was one of only three jazz musicians to be appointed to the National Council of the Arts.


His extensive appearance in television series and jazz educational programs brought the music he loved to the masses at the grassroots level as well as more formal arenas. He was sometimes better known as a television personality than a pianist. He was quoted in a 2007 article in the Post Magazine: "there's no question that being an advocate eclipsed my reputation as a musician. It was my doing. I wanted to prove to people that jazz has an audience. I had to do that for me."


Taylor suffered from a 2002 stroke, which affected his right hand, but he continued to perform almost until his death. He died after a heart attack on December 28, 2010 in Manhattan at the age of 89.

Taylor was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.


His legacy was honored in a Harlem memorial service on January 11, 2011, featuring performances by Taylor's final working trio – bassist Chip Jackson and drummer Winard Harper – along with long-time Taylor associates Jimmy Owens, Frank Wess, Geri Allen, Christian Sands and vocalist Cassandra Wilson. Taylor was survived by his wife of 65 years, Theodora Castion Taylor; a daughter, Kim Taylor-Thompson; and a granddaughter. His son, artist Duane Taylor, died in 1988.


On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Billy Taylor among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Billy Taylor is 101 years, 2 months and 7 days old. Billy Taylor will celebrate 102nd birthday on a Monday 24th of July 2023.

Find out about Billy Taylor birthday activities in timeline view here.

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