Billy Taylor was born in Greenville, North Carolina on July 24, 1921. Dr. Taylor, one of jazz's most influential pianists, composers, and educators, is currently the Robert L. Jones Distinguished Professor of Music at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Taylor graduated from Virginia State College with a B.S. in Music in 1942, and has been playing piano professionally since 1944, starting with Ben Webster's Quartet on New York's 52nd Street. He later became the house pianist at Birdland, where he performed with the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.