WBGO Blog
  • Billy Lives! A 90th Birthday Celebration of Dr. Billy Taylor

    July 20, 2011. Posted by Tim Wilkins.

    Dr. Billy Taylor lives on in our hearts and minds at WBGO. The pianist, educator and broadcaster played a unique role in the life of the station from our first broadcast in 1979 until his death late last year. As the originator of jazz broadcasting at NPR, he was our tireless advocate and mentored many of us over the years.

    "His knowledge and gentle presentation set the tone in how jazz performance was presented," said Thurston Briscoe, WBGO's vice president of programming. "He was one of the most supportive people I ever met."

    WBGO honors Dr. Taylor on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday this Sunday, July 24, with our exclusive webcast of Billy Taylor: A Life in Jazz, a new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Bret Primack.

    This remarkable half-hour documentary contains rare footage of Taylor with Duke Ellington, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Ella Fitzgerald and Cannonball Adderley, as well as clips from his groundbreaking 1956 television series The Subject Is Jazz and testimonials from Wynton Marsalis, Jon Faddis and many others.

    After Sunday, the film can also be seen at Primack's YouTube channel, JazzVideoGuy, which has more than 750 jazz videos.

    Check back to wbgo.org/billytaylor every day, as we will be adding more performances, photos and interviews with Dr Taylor, drawn from the WBGO archives! Read more