Dr. Billy Taylor
ASCAP Jazz Living Legend Award
Billy Taylor, who began his jazz-performing career on the day he arrived in New York almost six decades ago, has served the jazz community and impacted the music he loves in an incredibly wide variety of ways. Pianist, composer, bandleader, accompanist, educator, writer and broadcaster - Dr. Taylor is the consummate musical citizen. Classically trained as a youngster, Billy Taylor took a Big Apple-bound bus from his hometown of Greenville, North Carolina as soon as he graduated from college. His first gig was with Ben Webster and he then went on to perform with countless jazz greats, including Artie Shaw, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Stan Getz and many, many more. He is a prolific composer, with over 350 songs to his credit, including the gospel-flavored protest song, "I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free." He has composed music for ballet and the theater, and has been commissioned to write a number of symphonic works, as well. Dr. Taylor may perhaps be best-known to the public as the award-winning arts correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, where he has spread the joy of jazz to millions of viewers. He has hosted numerous radio and television programs, including the 26-part NPR series, Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center. Dr. Taylor co-founded the jazz public service organization, Jazzmobile, and serves as a board member for The ASCAP Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Meet the Composer, Inc. And the Billy Taylor Trio continues to be a frequent touring and recording ensemble as the jazz world prepares to celebrate Billy Taylor’s 80th birthday on July 24.