Oral History Information
Billy Taylor was first and foremost a jazz pianist. This fact might surprise some people who knew Billy best for one of a number of other careers he enjoyed in music, including teaching, composing and advocating for music education. As a jazz performer, Billy learned from the best including Ben Webster and Mary Lou Williams. He recorded with his own groups as well as many of the leading performers in jazz and all the while kept his eye on how we could increase the awareness of music and music making. Billy had several successful radio programs as well as musical director positions on stage, film and TV and promoted music at the drop of a hat. When he was given the chance to honor his late mentor, Billy established the Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival, which has become a successful annual event and one Billy was proud of as it celebrates the past while encouraging the future of jazz music.