Grammy- and Emmy-Winning Jazz Musician Billy Taylor Dies

Billy Taylor - @ Peacock Alley- 1974
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Kennedy Center's artistic director for jazz had performed alongside legends like Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker.

Billy Taylor, a leading jazz musician, composer and artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center since 1994, died of heart failure Tuesday in New York, reports Reuters. He was 89.

Taylor began playing professionally in 1944 and had performed with music icons like Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, among many others. He was also known for penning the civil rights anthem "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free."

Throughout a lengthy career that included radio and TV gigs where he promoted the art of jazz, Taylor was awarded an Emmy, a Grammy, a U.S. National Medal of Arts, two Peabody Awards, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award.