BILLY TAYLOR grew up in a musical family and learned to play different instruments as a child, including guitar, drums and saxophone.
A jazz activist, Taylor sat on the Honorary Founders Board of The Jazz Foundation of America, an organisation he started in 1989, with Ann Ruckert, Herb Storfer and Phoebe Jacobs, to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians, later including musicians who survived Hurricane Katrina.
Taylor appeared on hundreds of albums and composed more than 300 songs during his career, which spanned over six decades. His 1963 song "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" dealt with civil rights issues and became the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. It was selected as "one of the greatest songs of the sixties" by the New York Times and was the theme music of the 1996 film Ghosts of Mississippi. His extensive appearance in television series and jazz educational programs brought the music he loved to the masses at the grass roots level as well as more formal arenas. He was sometimes better known as a television personality than a pianist.
Any time in our history when the color barrier is broken, people have made significant sacrifices and stood up for the rights of others. That can't be taken lightly..
Billy Taylor | Duane Music