American composer and conductor Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was born in the Bronx in New York City. His mother was a musician, piano teacher, and director of a theater company there and named him for Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Perkinson was composing by the time he graduated from high school. Over his career he wrote classical, jazz and popular music, as well as music for dance, stage, film, and TV.
Perkinson co-founded the Symphony of the New World, the first racially integrated orchestra in the United States. He was Music Director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Jerome Robbins American Theatre Lab and many jazz and soul artists including Max Roach, Marvin Gaye and Harry Belafonte. His style combined classical music traditions with the blues, spirituals and African American folk music.