William "Billy" Taylor, world-renowned jazz pianist, received
the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for Cultural Contributions
from the University of Minnesota Duluth on Friday, March 5 at noon in
the Weber Music Hall. The UMD Jazz Combo I presented a short program
and Taylor, in an impromptu move, performed along with the combo during
the final piece.
Taylor is the Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale and adviser for jazz at
the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
In a career that has spanned six decades, he has shared his music with
people around the world through performance, recordings, lectures, public
arts initiatives and television.
Taylor was born in Greenville, N.C., in 1921 and began studying his
chosen instrument, piano, at the age of 7. Following graduation from
Virginia State University in 1942, he moved to New York where his popularity
on 52nd street led him to play with Billy Holiday, John Coltrane and
others. He completed his doctorate in music education at the University
of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he currently occupies the Wilber
D. Barrett Chair of Music. In the 70s, he began hosting National Public
Radio shows including "Jazz Alive" and "Billy Taylor's
Jazz at the Kennedy Center".
Taylor still performs regularly with his current jazz trio. When he's
not touring, composing or recording, he can be found in music classrooms
around the country, conducting master classes, workshops and lecture/demonstrations.
At the age of 82, Billy Taylor remains vigorously dedicated to nurturing
jazz and creating new opportunities for artists. Taylor encompasses
a rare combination of creativity, intelligence, vision, commitment and
For tickets for the concert, call 218-726-8877.
UMD Department of Music
Posted February 26, 2004.