Sundance: Stephen James Taylor

Stephen James Taylor, composer of SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU (US Dramatic) and MAYA ANGELOU AND STILL I RISE (Documentary Premieres) is available at Sundance for interviews/appearances (1/23-28)


Premiere: Sunday 1/24 12:15PM (Eccles Theatre).

Other screenings:

  • 1/25 6:30 PM (Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center)
  • 1/26 9:30 PM (Redstone Cinema 1)
  • 1/28 5:45 PM (The Marc)
  • 1/29 6PM (Yarrow Hotel Theatre)
  • 1/30 12 PM (Sundance Mountain Resort Screening Room)


Premiere: Tuesday 1/26 2PM (The Marc)

Other screenings:

  • 1/27 6:30 PM (Redstone Cinema 1)
  • 1/29 3PM (Broadway Centre Cinema 6)
  • 1/30 9PM (Yarrow Hotel Theatre)

BIOGRAPHY: Stephen James Taylor

Stephen James Taylor has a unique musical identity. His style represents a blend of classical, rock, blues, gospel, world music, and avante garde. His past projects include scoring the documentary Tom Bradley: Bridging the Divide (2015), Maya Angelou-And Still I Rise (2015), Southside With You (2015), People Are The Sky, (2015), Marvel’s TV Series The Black Panther, music for theme parks such as Disney World and The Red Sea Astrarium, Universal’s The Adventures of Brer Rabbit, Disney’s Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas (for which he won Best Original Score at the 2004 DVDX Awards), Teachers Pet, a Disney animated feature with wide theatrical release in 2003, and many of Charles Burnett’s films including To Sleep With Anger and the  blues documentary, Warming By the Devil’s Fire produced by Martin Scorsese. He has composed scores for many of Robert Townsend’s films such as Of Boys and Men (2008) and Holiday Heart (2000). In 2001 he wrote underscore and produced some of the songs for Clark Johnson’s Boycott (HBO films).

In 1996 he was commissioned to write an orchestral suite for the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and was one of the conductors of the Atlanta Symphony for that occasion. In 1993, Stephen received an Emmy nomination for an R&B song he wrote for I’ll Fly Away as well as a Daytime Emmy nomination for his classical orchestral score for an episode of the animated series, The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa. Other Emmy nominations have been for the PBS movie Brother Future (1991), and Raw Toonage an animated series for Disney. In 1999 and 2000 he has received Annie nominations for his work on Disney’s Mickey Mouseworks. He has also done string arrangements for James Taylor and for Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

After graduating from Stanford University in 1976 with a B.A. in music, he studied composition for four years with Henri Lazarof, professor of music at UCLA.  He has studied microtonality with Erv Wilson since 1989 with whom he has developed a new 810 key microtonal keyboard. Taylor’s second chamber symphony was commissioned and premiered by the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra in 1983. The Detroit Symphony later performed it in 1990. His various chamber works have been performed throughout the country.

His ongoing projects the recent release of his solo trans-tonal pop album entitled Embrace It All (available on iTunes).  A filmmaker as well, he has also completed two short films of his own, the award winning documentary, Surfing The Sonic Sky, and the sci fi short, I Am Here.


One Chicago afternoon in 1989, a Harvard Law summer associate named Barack Obama finagled a tête-à-tête with an attorney from the prestigious corporate law firm where they both worked. Her name was Michelle Robinson, and his pretense was a friendly outing to a community organizer meeting. In Michelle’s eyes, it was most certainly not a date. But as ice cream gives way to a stop at the Art Institute, and the community gathering conveniently becomes a chance for Barack to lecture brilliantly on activism, it’s stunningly obvious to Michelle that this cigarette-smoking smooth talker is desperately trying to woo her. As their epic encounter continues into evening and these fiercely bright minds go head-to-head, sparks fly.

Southside With You takes plenty of poetic license to craft this charming, playful story out of true-life events, yet actors Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers embody the essence of two people matched in power, idealism, and intellect. As the second Obama presidential term winds down, it’s profound to consider just how serendipitous and consequential that day in 1989 was—not just for Michelle and Barack, but for America.


Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep deep roots in American culture,” icon Maya Angelou gives people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. Dr. Angelou’s was a prolific life; as a singer, dancer, activist, poet, and writer she inspired generations with lyrical modern African American thought that pushed boundaries.

Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack’s unprecedented film celebrates Dr. Maya Angelou by weaving her words with rare and intimate archival photographs and videos, which paint hidden moments of her exuberant life during some of America’s most defining civil rights moments. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South to her swinging soirees with Malcolm X in Ghana to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton, we are given special access to interviews with Dr. Angelou whose indelible charm and quick wit make it easy to love her.

Skillfully crafted with heart and ease, this film reflects the vibrant spirit of an American legend who was determined to live her philosophies and fought for what she believed in her whole life.