The Billy Strayhorn Foundation, Inc. exists to celebrate the music and life of composer, arranger, and 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 Four Freedoms

In accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Duke Ellington noted that Billy Strayhorn lived by four freedoms: freedom from hate, freedom from self pity, freedom from fear of doing something that would benefit someone else more than it would himself and freedom from the pride that could make him feel that he was better than others.

Jazz Education Initiative

The Jazz Education Initiative consists of six major elements:

1) Participation in Jazz education conferences:
*JEN 2012 Conference Theme: Managing the Legacy, The Strayhorn Archives. 2013 Conference Theme: Managing the Legacy, 2014/2015 Conference Theme: The Billy Strayhorn Centennial. 2016 Conference Theme: The book, "Strayhorn:An Illustrated Life". 2017 Conference Theme: The Billy Strayhorn Foundation and highlighting The Billy Strayhorn Jazz Education Scholarship recipients. 

2) Building relationships with jazz educators, music teachers and musical artists.

3) Collaboration with organizations that promote the music and image of Billy Strayhorn to students from elementary school through college.    

4) Communicating Foundation activities on the BSSI website.

5) Telling the Strayhorn Story- a series of pamphlets, presentations and a traveling exhibit which provides family perspectives on Billy Strayhorn, and discuss issues surrounding the capture of, the preservation of, the management of, and the broadening of the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn.

6) Provide financial support for up and coming middle school, high school and college musicians through an annual Billy Strayhorn scholarship award.The Billy Strayhorn Scholarship award was established in 2008 to recognize students, teachers, and institutions that display through performance and instruction a strong passion for playing, studying and perpetuating jazz.

2015: The Billy Strayhorn Centennial Committee

The Billy Strayhorn Centennial Committee, a project of The Billy Strayhorn Foundation, will provide a unique opportunity to present a wide ranging series of events throughout the centennial year of 2015 which explore and expand the musical legacy of Billy Strayhorn. The Billy Strayhorn Centennial Committee is charged with promoting three levels of engagement:

  • Level 1 – The Centennial Calendar: The committee will work to insure that all Billy Strayhorn Centennial related activities are placed on a master calendar on the official Billy Strayhorn website. To insure that the Centennial Committee is apprised of all centennial activities, the committee will reach out to artists and arts’ organizations to determine whether they will be creating Billy Strayhorn tributes and to make sure that any such activities are placed on the Centennial Calendar to help publicize their events.
  • Level 2– Centennial Partnerships: The committee will work with artists and organizations that indicate their commitment to produce Billy Strayhorn Centennial tributes by providing support (i.e. speakers, Strayhorn themed merchandise).
  • Level 3-Fundraising: The Centennial Committee will engage in fundraising activities to support the award of Billy Strayhorn Centennial Scholarships to selected young jazz composers.

The Billy Strayhorn Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit incorporated in the State of New York.


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