A Celebration of Black History Month

Billy Taylor's Peaceful Warrior is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King

Billy composed, orchestrated and arranged this suite for symphony orchestra, mixed chorus and Jazz trio.

This performance features Billy's Trio (with Chip Jackson on bass and Steve Johns on drums), the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the 130 voices of the combined Spellman and Morehouse College Glee Clubs and the Atlanta Center Community Chorus, conducted by Andre Rafael Smith.

Billy Taylor first met Dr. Martin Luther King in the early 60s at one of the annual Jackie Robinson Foundation concerts that the late baseball giant presented with his wife Rachel. 

It was at one of those concerts, with Dr. King in attendance, that Billy picked up two expressions from Dr. King.  “He was speaking to a teenager who asked him about heroes and he told the young man ‘you should be proud to chose your hero, it's a matter of pride.’  A Matter of Pride became the first movement of the suite.  That same day, he told a woman who wanted to support what he was doing, but in her own Connecticut town, ‘If you are really concerned, then you should show it and you can show it where you are.’  So I wrote that down too. So just from those two phrases, the first and third movements of the piece came.  I'm not a poet, not a great lyricist, but when I wrote this, I was anxious for it to come out the way I felt it because this came from what he said.”

Watch a Video about Dr. King featuring Heritage: If You Are Really Concerned Then Show It


Please Press Play to Begin

Listen to (Please note, these are streaming MP3 files and will open up in a separate player):

1. It's a Matter of Pride 

2. His Name Was Martin

3. Heritage: If You Really Are Concerned Then Show It

4. Interview with Billy where he discusses how and why he wrote the Peaceful Warrior suite.

The words and music to It's a Matter of Pride, and If You Really Are Concerned Then Show It, are available in the Billy Taylor Vocal Collection.

Dee Dee Bridgewater's vocal version of If You Realy Are Concerned appears on the CD, Taylor Made at the Kennedy Center.

Billy performs His Name Was Martin with a small group that includes Stanley Turrentine on the CD, It's a Matter of Pride, which also contains a vocal version of His Name Was Martin featuring Grady Tate.