Kenneth M. Taylor Memorial Scholarship Continues the Gospel Music Legacy

Fondly known as “Mr. Gospel,” the Kenneth M. Taylor Memorial Scholarship at UDC is named for the musical genius who played seven instruments and was known throughout the industry for his gifts and for mentoring new talent.

Taylor was a Gospel socialite, who was trained by Roberta Flack and worked on the gospel circuit with artists like Kirk Franklin. His exceptional connections and relationships included work with well-known artists such as Dottie Peoples, Dorothy Norwood, Rev. Franklin “Bubby” Fann, Eric Waddell &The Abundant Life Singers, Pastor Timothy and David Wright, Lucinda Moore, Rev. Luther Barnes, Maurette Brown Clark, Pastor Tyrone Jefferson, Earnest Pugh, Dr. Brenda Jefferson, Zak Williams & 1 Akord, Wilmington Chester Mass Choir and Bishop Ryan Warner, among many others.

He also organized the Gospel Music Heritage Month program at the Kennedy Center with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee during the Congressional Black Caucus.

The Kenneth M. Taylor Memorial Scholarship was established by his parents Delores Smith Taylor and his father, Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr., a former administrator at UDC. Kenneth M. Taylor died in 2017. The first scholarship was awarded last year to Jonathan McCrea, a junior majoring in music at UDC. It is awarded to an undergraduate music major with an emphasis on gospel music.

“Gospel music was his whole life,” said Dr. Taylor, who graduated along with his late wife from UDC predecessor institutions. “It felt like a good way to honor him. His mother and I thought what better place to establish the scholarship then at the university we love and graduated from.”

Taylor wore many hats as a tour manager, booking manager, and event promoter for the company he founded Teemade Productions of Washington, DC., providing full services in retail and street promotions with a focus on brand development.  

Each year, he and his Teemade Productions treated the Gospel Announcers Guild with a themed musical at the annual Gospel Music Workshop of America convention, where he showcased the artists he was promoting.  Taylor was particularly dedicated to supporting and mentoring new talent. One of the groups, Images of Unity, was founded by Taylor to help keep young people encouraged and away from unnecessary distractions. He was instrumental in assisting many of the current gospel singers and groups nurture and grow their careers.

Under his leadership and guidance, many youth of Macedonia and surrounding vicinity were able to expand their horizons as he planned and accompanied them on tours abroad to England, France and Belgium. Locally they accompanied him to California, Texas, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina. Many of these same youth and young adults have served as backup to performers on the Dr. Bobby Jones broadcast. Taylor also served as a consultant and panelist for the United State Department in the Republic of Benin, West Africa.

A product of DC Public School System, Taylor was a contributing writer for “The Gospel Truth Magazine” and the Washington Informer where he authored the “In His Name” articles. He also wrote a song that was used in a “Blockbusters” TV commercial. Among his many awards, he cherished his “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Despite his constant travel, Taylor made it his business to return by Sunday to play for several Metropolitan Washington churches including Macedonia Baptist Church, Greater First Baptist Church, Faith Presbyterian Church, Forcey Bible Church and Craig Memorial Community Church.