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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 leadership.
For tickets for the concert, call 218-726-8877.
UMD Department of Music


Posted February 26, 2004.


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