African American Legacy Project Welcomes Renown Jazz Legend

William McDaniel

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

Toledo’s African American Legacy Project invited renown jazz professor and historian, William McDaniel, PhD. to speak about local legend Art Tatum, and announce an international piano competition.

“Just a few yards away from this site is the Art Tatum house. We’ve been working on celebrating his legacy since 2003 or 2004. We have figured out a way to really acknowledge him in a great way, with an international competition. There are a few businesses and organizations that are already involved,” shared Robert Smith, African American Legacy Project executive director.

McDaniel’s November 16 visit included a hospitality event that opened with live jazz music, refreshments and a live one-hour interview between Smith and McDaniel.

“The African American Legacy Project has been working with WJUC 107.3fm on a program called Journey and we plan to launch that program with Dr. McDaniel’s interview. I am thankful to each of you for joining us for this event,” said Smith.

McDaniel has served as professor of African American Music at The Ohio State University from 1981 until his retirement in 2015. He has composed and directed numerous music arrangements in the style of jazz, R & B and marching band.

His 2013 music arrangement of Michael Jackson’s halftime show of the Ohio State University Marching bank was viewed 10 million times on YouTube. He has also traveled to several US cities and international locations as Director of the Jazz Studite an OSU Jazz Ensemble.

William McDaniel, PhD, and Robert Smith

He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, and his masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Iowa. He’s a life time member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and Martin Luther King Performing Arts Complex in Columbus board member. He’s married to Bernice a Spelman College alumna, father to two Morehouse alumni, William III and Elliot, and grandparent to four girls.

“I was brought here as an outsider, who can speak about Art Tatum. He was a giant of an artist, who was born here in Toledo, so his roots are here. I was impressed on a personal and professional level to learn about Robert Smith’s vision. This city once honored Art Tatum in 1990 and I was invited to speak about Art Tatum so to receive another invitation to speak about Art Tatum and support the competition is an honor,” said McDaniel.

The African American Legacy Project will announce in early 2023 additional details about the international piano competition in honor of Art Tatum. For additional information about the legacy of Art Tatum, visit