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Classical Notes: December 29, 2010 Archive

Billy Taylor, in Memoriam

Posted at 2:19 PM on December 29, 2010 by John Birge
Filed under: Musician stories

Billy Taylor died yesterday. He would have been 90 years young in July.

As the New York Times obituary affirms, he was so much more than a jazz pianist and composer. He was also a teacher, television producer, civil rights activist, friend to Dr. Martin Luther King. He was also a jazz disc jockey who helped keep the peace in New York City in the wake of MLK's assassination.

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I had the honor of talking with Billy Taylor in 2009 when he came to Minnesota to perform on the annual VocalEssence "Witness" concert. We had a pre-concert public conversation in the Ordway lobby. Billy also shared his fascinating story on the radio with MPR's Euan Kerr. You can hear that interview again here.

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And enjoy Billy at his best -- at the piano -- here: