Dowell Taylor


  • Jackson State University
  • University of Cincinnati

Dowell Taylor, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, is a 1972 graduate of Callaway High School. After high school, he attended Jackson State University, receiving both a bachelor's and master's in music education. Mr. Taylor was a member of the Jackson State University Marching Band, affectionately known as the Sonic Boom of the South, where he was a member of the tuba section. During his undergraduate years, he arranged more than 100 band selections, including the current JSU theme song, “Get Ready”, originally arranged by John Paul Jones.  In 1975, he received the highest award a JSU bandsman could receive, the Best All-Around Bandsman Award. Mr. Taylor did a further study (90 quarter hours) while enrolled in the Doctor of Musical Arts program in wind conducting at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio.

After graduating from JSU, Mr. Taylor served as director of bands at Mary Holmes College (West Point, Mississippi) and Kentucky State University (Frankfort, Kentucky), where he also served as the department chair. From 1984 to 1992, Mr. Taylor served as director of bands and director of music technology at Jackson State University. During this period, he conducted both the symphonic and marching bands. Also, the world-famous JSU “Sonic Boom of the South” received numerous awards and citations, including national coverage in Jet Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and People Magazine. The band was also featured as the special guest band of honor at the St Petersburg, Florida Martin Luther King Battle of Bands, performed at the 1991 NBA All-Star Basketball game in Charlotte, North Carolina, and opened for Motown’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in Hollywood, California in 1990. One of Mr. Taylor's most notable performances with the JSU Symphonic Band was performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, adapted for band by Mr. Taylor, featuring pianist and JSU Professor of Music Dr. Karen Laubengayer in 1987.

Mr. Taylor received the JSU Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1992. The Jackson Music Awards named him “Local Musician of the Year” in 1998, 2000, and 2003. In 2016, Mr. Taylor’s jazz group, The Dowell Taylor Jazz Quartet, received the Jazz Group of the Year Award from the Jackson Music Awards. In 2008, The Dowell Taylor “Big Band”, a 40-piece jazz ensemble, performed for the annual Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children's New Year’s Eve Fundraiser Gala at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson, Mississippi. On December 10, 2010, the Mississippi Jazz Foundation honored Mr. Taylor for his contributions to the field of music education and the Jazz music genre. In 2015, the Mississippi Humanities Council honored Mr. Taylor with a Humanities Teacher Award as a distinguished professor at Jackson State University.

On April 1, 2012, after a twenty-year hiatus from the band, Mr. Taylor accepted the appointment to the position of interim director of bands, assistant professor of music, and director of music technology at Jackson State University. In December 2012, the position was made permanent. During his second stint as director of bands, the “Sonic Boom” was featured by numerous media outlets, including a two-page coverage of the band’s pre-season camp in ESPN the Magazine, a CNN special on the Morning Show featuring Robin Meade, and a CNN production chronicling the journey of becoming a JSU drum major called The American Journey. The renowned band performed twice at the Honda Battle of the Bands Showcase in Atlanta and for a nationally-televised New Orleans Saints football game. Mr. Taylor has served as an adjudicator and clinician throughout the United States, as well as for the Jackson Public Schools All-City High School Music Festival.

Mr. Taylor received certification in music technology from the Technology Institute for Music Educators (TIME) in Pasadena, California. In 2009, he developed an undergraduate degree program in music technology at Jackson State, which received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Mr. Taylor has been featured as guest conductor with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra presenting Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise” and regularly performs on the keyboard with his Jazz Trio and Quartet.

On June 30, 2015, Mr. Dowell Taylor retired from Jackson State University after 31 years of service. Post-retirement, Mr. Taylor has been honored by the nationally acclaimed Honda Battle of the Bands in Atlanta, Georgia, the Jackson, Mississippi City Council, the Sonic Boom National Alumni Association, and Mr. Andre Delano, a national recording artist who has performed with, Babyface, Lionel Richie, Maxwell, Johnnie Taylor, Dorothy Moore, and Stevie Wonder. On April 15, 2016, Mr. Taylor was honored by the HBCU National Band Director’s Consortium, for his many years of service to Jackson State and its music programs.

On September 18, 2017, Mr. Taylor, out of a profound, deep, and abiding love for his alma mater, accepted the appointment of the position of interim director of bands, assistant professor of music, and director of music technology at Jackson State University. He was anxious to assist with preparing the Jackson State University “Sonic Boom of the South” for its next generation of spectacular leadership. In 2018, Mr. Taylor was inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. Dowell Taylor retired again from JSU in 2020.

Mr. Taylor is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. He is married to Dr. Vivian Taylor, and they have one son, David.