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New Orleans Middle School receives 2017 Billy Strayhorn Scholarship Award

The 2017 Jazz Education Network Conference (JEN) in New Orleans was a huge success for the Strayhorn legacy. Held January 5th thru January 7th, the 3 day conference brings together jazz educators, students and artists from around the world to celebrate, honor and network among those in the jazz community. This year for the first time, Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc. and the Billy Strayhorn Foundation awarded a Strayhorn scholarship in the JEN "host city". 

The deserving recipient was a middle school with a fantastic music program. The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Believe College Prep serves 400 plus 5th thru 8th grade students. Led by musical director Mr. Keith Hart, the KIPP Believe College Prep jazz band has performed and won numerous awards, as well as director Hart using music as a powerful educational tool for his students.

Pictured above are music director Keith Hart (far right) along with several KIPP music students and members of the Strayhorn family in the back row. The Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award promotes the values to which Billy Strayhorn adhered to in his musical life. Namely, personal integrity, commitment to excellence and perserverance.  


Meet 2017 Strayhorn Jazz Education Award Winner Christian Crawford

Christian Crawford is the recipient of the first Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award given to a student at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. Christian, a senior, is a very talented and dedicated trumpet player.

The Billy Strayhorn Foundation presented the award to Eastman School of Music professor of jazz Bill Dobbins at the 2017 Jazz Education Network Conference in New Orleans. The Eastman School of Music joins Temple University, The Nashville Jazz Workshop, and KIPP Believe College Prep in New Orleans as institutions whose students have been honored with a Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship, recognizing their committment to musical excellence.  


Cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble kicked off their August Summer tour starting in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. The ten-city tour took them across the U.S., culminating in a performance at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl on August 21st. As part of the program line-up, the ensemble performed an original arrangement of the classic Billy Strayhorn song “Take The ‘A’ Train”.

The ensemble debuted their innovative cover of the jazz standard last year in celebration of Strayhorn’s centennial at a benefit concert supporting the Silk Road project. Yo-Yo Ma has enjoyed a prolific career as both a soloist performing with orchestras around the world and a recording artist. His 90+ albums have received 18 Grammy Awards. 

*Pictured Above: Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc. President and Billy Strayhorn's niece Alyce Claerbaut (holding a copy of 'Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life') met Yo-Yo Ma backstage following the August 16th performance at Ravinia Festival in Chicago.


New York Celebrates Billy Strayhorn’s Centennial With Special ‘A Train’ Ride

All aboard the A Train! Sunday November 29th, 2015, Jazz at Lincoln Center celebrated the centennial of jazz great Billy Strayhorn with a series of performances — including a surprise pop-up concert on the subway that inspired Strayhorn’s most famous composition, “Take the A Train.”

The MTA unearthed an era-appropriate subway train to run on the A line for the occasion. The train’s passengers were serenaded by the Donald Malloy Quartet and the Evan Sherman Entourage playing a medley of Strayhorn compositions, including "Take the A Train". 

“We celebrate the centennial of Mr. Strayhorn by saluting one of the most meaningful compositions in the jazz canon, as we also salute our public transit system,” Wynton Marsalis, the trumpeter and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said in a statement.

The celebration is a collaboration between Jazz at Lincoln Center, MTA Music and the New York Transit Museum. Mr. Marsalis played “Take the A Train” on the subway in 1999 during the centennial of Duke Ellington, Strayhorn’s frequent collaborator.

Concerts celebrating Strayhorn followed on Sunday evening at 7:30 and 9:30pm at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, presented an official proclamation November 29th as “Billy Strayhorn Day.” 

Litchfield Jazz Camp Honors 2 Students with Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award.

The Litchfield Jazz Camp, in collaboration with the Billy Strayhorn Foundation, named two of its promising 2016 summer camp participants co-winners of the Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award. 

This years recipients are pianist Alejandra Williams and bassist Julian Weisman. Alejandra has attended the Litchfield Jazz Camp for 6 straight summers. Julian has attended the camp the last 4 summers. Both are 17 years old with bright musical futures. Litchfield Jazz Camp music director Don Braden says that Alejandra and Julian "both exemplify the best ideals of dedication, skill, positive attitude and supportiveness. We are very proud of both of them!". 

Special thanks to Litchfield Jazz Camp founder and Executive Director Vita Muir, Music Director Don Braden and Operations Director Albert Rivera for all they do to enhance the lives of youth through jazz education and performance.


Founded in 1997, Litchfield Jazz Camp now serves 70-150 residential and day students each week for 1 to 4 week sessions on the campus of Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. Run by Litchfield Performing Arts, a charitable organization dedicated to changing lives through music, the Camp's philosophy is simple. They start with a faculty of amazing and inspiring jazz musicians. To that they add eager music students in a non-competitive program. Litchfield Jazz Camp embraces all learners - students 12 years to adult, beginners, intermediate and advanced players, students with learning disabilities, and others. That is how the collaborative, supportive and fun atmosphere at Litchfield Jazz Camp is created.

About the Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship Award:

Established in 2008 by Billy Strayhorn Songs Inc., the award recognizes students, teachers and institutions that display through performance and instruction a strong passion for playing, studying and perpetuating jazz.







Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life

The many "Orbits" Of Billy Strayhorn come to life in a new book. 

Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life, is a stunning collection of essays, photographs, and ephemera celebrating Billy Strayhorn, one of the most significant yet under appreciated contributors to 20th century American music. Released in commemoration of Strayhorn's Centennial, this luxurious coffee table book offers intimate details of the composers life from musicians, scholars, and Strayhorn's closest relatives. Perhaps best known for his 28 year collaborative role as Duke Ellingtons "writing and arranging companion", Strayhorn has emerged in recent years as an even more meritorious force in shaping the jazz canon. "Strayhorn" delves into every stage of Billy's career, beginning with his abusive upbringing and early success to later partnerships with Lena Horne and the Copasetics. Rich with insights, the book covers topics such as his music, family, intellectual pursuits, involvement with civil rights and open homosexuality. Featuring contributions from Strayhorn biographer David Hadju, film director Robert Levi, music scholar Walter van de Leur, as well as lush photography and rare memorabilia like hand written scores, this is a book to be treasured by jazz aficionados and music lovers everywhere. Enthralling and visually captivating, "Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life" lauds a beloved jazz legend and captures a prodigious legacy that will influence generations to come.

Click your choice of these online suppliers to order your copy of "Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life" NOW!!


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Honoring our Billy Strayhorn 2015 Centennial Honorary Committee for a fantastic centennial year!

Bringing together luminaries from entertainment, education and performing arts, the Billy Strayhorn 2015 Centennial Honorary Committee brought together an impressive list of individuals with a wide array of accomplishments expanding beyond jazz.

The Honorary Chair for the committee was (in memorium), jazz legend Clark Terry. The centennial honorary committee members all shared a vision to contribute to 2015 being a year of celebrating the life and music of the man affectionately known as 'Swee Pea'. To say the least, that vision was accomplished.

To all Honorary Committee Members, THANK YOU for your time and talent to perpetuate the continuing growing legacy of Billy Strayhorn.

The 2015 centennial vision was spearheaded by the Billy Strayhorn Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to celebrate the music and life of composer, arranger, pianist Billy Strayhorn and to develop an appreciation of his music among all people. The Billy Strayhorn Foundation supports this purpose through live music performance, lectures, and symposia.  

The Strayhorn Centennial Honorary Committee, a project of the Billy Strayhorn Foundation, worked with community groups, artists, and performing arts organizations interested in creating events throughout the centennial year of 2015 which explored and expanded the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn.

Our 2015 Honorary Committee members were;  

Clark Terry, Chair (In Memorium),  National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, educator and highly acclaimed trumpet player and member the great bands of Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Ann Hampton Callaway, Grammy nominated jazz vocalist

Tammy McCann, jazz vocalist, recording artist, music teacher/coach

Mark George, President/CEO Music Institute of Chicago

David Hajdu, award winning Strayhorn biographer

Walter van de Leur, Pd.D., award winning Strayhorn biographer/musicologist

Rob Levi, Emmy/Peabody winning Strayhorn filmmaker/documentarian

John Clayton, Grammy winning co-founder of the Clayton/Hamilton Big Band

Donald Harrison, award winning jazz saxophone player and composer

Ramsey Lewis, Grammy winning jazz pianist and recording artist

Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player and Chair of Jazz Studies- Temple University

Kevin Mahogany, acclaimed jazz vocalist and recording artist

R. Susan Motely, music promoter

Carol Adams, Former President/CEO DuSable Museum of African American History

Herb Jordan, music publisher/writer

Charles McPherson, acclaimed jazz alto saxophone player, recording artist and composer

The Duke Ellington Society of Washington D. C.

Allan Harris, acclaimed jazz vocalist and composer

Alex Webb, MA, Music Department Buckinghamshire New University, United Kingdom

The Duke Ellington Society of Toronto, Canada (TDES 40)

The Duke Ellington Society of the United Kingdom (DESUK)

Vernard Gray, producer, Be Mo Jazz/East River Jazz Project, Washington D.C-Baltimore

Filarmonica Laudamo Messina. Messina, Sicily

Bill Dobbins, Professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media. Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Robin Bell-Stevens, Executive Director and CEO, Jazzmobile Inc.

Randy Weston, Jazz Pianist and Composer



Billy Strayhorn honored with Legacy Project Walk of Fame Plaque

The Legacy Project, the world's only Outdoor LGBT museum walk, hdld an outdoor ceremony celebrating the induction of bronze memorials commemorating Leonard Bernstein, Josephine Baker, Rudolf Nureyev and Billy Strayhorn. Chicago's Award-Winning "Legacy Walk" museum streetscape honors the month of October — "LGBT History Month" — and National Coming-Out Day. The event took place Saturday, October 10th, at 3245 North Halsted Avenue in Chicago. 

"The Legacy Walk is the world's only outdoor LGBT museum walk. It is dedicated to raising awareness of LGBT contributions to world history and culture as a means to counter the ignorance which fuels anti-gay bullying. "We are delighted to add these five remarkable plaques to those for Jane Addams, Byard Rustin, Alan Turing and so many others… an extremely moving tribute to an aspect of shared human history that most people aren't aware exists," said Legacy Project Executive Director Victor Salvo. "We hope it will lead to conversations about the importance of inclusiveness, especially for LGBTQ youth who are most often forced to grow up without ever learning anything positive about historically significant people like themselves.



This superb box set celebrating the work of William Thomas Strayhorn echoes the basic paradox of this extraordinary jazz musician’s life and career.

The richness and diversity of the music it contains will delight the most obsessive Strayhorn aficionado; at the same time it offers a thrilling introduction to the man many know only as someone who once played in Duke Ellington’s band and wrote “Take The “A” Train.

The 7 CDs contain material presenting 62 of Strayhorn’s compositions, not only focusing on his work outside of the Ellington orchestra, but also presenting him in Duke’s company.

Billy Strayhorn, the man whose musical abilities could have made him a star in his own right, labored in the shadow of a world-famous benefactor. This collection of his recordings puts him firmly in the spotlight for once, revealing beyond doubt the true scale of the debt owed to him by Duke Ellington in particular and jazz in general.


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