Jazz musician Billy Taylor has died of heart failure, aged 89. The star passed away in New York on Tuesday, December 28, according to his daughter Kim Taylor-Thompson.
With a career dating back to the 1940s, the musician founded the Billy Taylor Trio and composed more than 300 songs, including the civil rights anthem "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free". Taylor played with musical greats including Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald during his time in the spotlight.
He also taught up-and-coming musicians about jazz with seminars at Yale University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he earned a PhD and taught as a professor A spokesperson for the John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where Taylor was the artistic director for jazz since 1994, has paid tribute to him, saying, "We are grateful for Dr. Taylor's devotion, friendship and his influence on jazz."
He is survived by his daughter and wife Theodora, who adds, "He enjoyed his life. Music was his love."