HOST DR. BILLY TAYLOR
Dr. Billy Taylor, jazz pianist, composer, arranger, conductor, lecturer and author, is the host of National Public Radio's 26-part series Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center. In each show of the weekly program, recorded live at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Dr. Taylor leads a performance, demonstration and discussion of jazz accompanied by a notable guest artist.
Dr. Taylor, an eminent jazz educator and performer, has led a distinguished career. He has been an arts correspondent for CBS News' Sunday Morning for 14 years, profiling over 250 well-known and not-so-well-known members of the jazz community -- he received an Emmy Award for his feature on Quincy Jones. He has also hosted several television and radio programs, including Jazz Alive!, Dizzy's Diamond and Peabody Award-winner Taylor Made Piano for NPR and Jazz Counterpoint for Bravo TV. In addition, Dr. Taylor has been host, pianist and deejay on two influential New York radio stations.
Dr. Taylor began his musical career in New York's nightclubs during the early 1940s playing alongside some of the great performers in the bebop movement. He has had a prolific and successful recording career, and he formed his own record label, Taylor Made, in the early 1980s. He has toured extensively with his own group, the Billy Taylor Trio, and with other artists. The trio includes Chip Jackson on bass and Winard Harper on drums and performs during each session of the NPR series.
Two decades ago, Dr. Taylor founded Jazzmobile, an outreach program that brought free performances to thousands of people across the country. He is currently involved in no less than six jazz education programs, including Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center. Dr. Taylor is a board member of the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Meet-the-Composer, among other arts organizations.
Dr. Taylor is one of only three jazz musicians appointed to the National Council of the Arts, and he received a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1992. Other awards include two Peabody Awards, an Emmy Award and the first Certificate of Recognition given by the U.S. Congressional Arts Caucus.
In 1994, Dr. Taylor was named jazz artistic advisor to the Kennedy Center. Since then, under the umbrella of Jazz at the Kennedy Center, Dr. Taylor has developed one acclaimed concert series after another, including the Art Tatum Pianorama, the Louis Armstrong Legacy series, the annual Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, Beyond Category, Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead and the Jazz Ambassadors Program.
Dr. Taylor holds the Wilber D. Barrett Chair at the University of Massachusetts, where he earned his doctoral degree in education. He also has been the recipient of 19 honorary degrees.
As he turns 80 this year, Dr. Billy Taylor remains vigorously dedicated to nurturing jazz and creating new forums and opportunities for the artists who perform it. He encompasses that rare combination of creativity, intelligence, vision, commitment and leadership, all qualities that make him one of our most cherished national treasures.