History and Mission
Thirty years after Billy Strayhorn’s death in 1967, his family established Billy Strayhorn Songs, Inc. to bring recognition to the composer and his significant contributions to the world of music. The goals of the new company were to make Strayhorn’s music available to the public and to capture, manage, preserve, and expand the artist’s legacy.
Today, BSSI continues to achieve these goals by managing and monitoring the production, sale, and distribution of Billy Strayhorn Manuscript Editions charts and scores, and by granting the rights to use Strayhorn’s music in live productions. BSSI also works with several other publishers to administer the Strayhorn catalog, and it is involved with such groups as the International Association for Jazz Education and the Jazz Education Network. BSSI is also partners with the Music Institute of Chicago and the Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University, each of which offers a Billy Strayhorn scholarship for jazz music
Since it was established in 1997, BSSI has worked to see that the image and legacy of Billy Strayhorn continue to move “ever up and onward,“ as was Strayhorn’s motto. The twenty-first century already has seen several acknowledgments of the greatness of Strayhorn’s music.
A Time magazine poll cited “Take the ‘A’ Train” on its list of the one hundred top songs of the twentieth century. The June 2001 edition of Ebony magazine listed three Strayhorn compositions on its list of the twentieth century’s one hundred best songs by black composers. The December 1999 edition of Pittsburgh magazine named Billy as one of its one hundred most influential Pittsburghers of the twentieth century.