American pianist, choral director and arranger Matthew Washington Kennedy was born in Americus, Georgia on 10 March 1921, and by the age of four was playing the piano by ear. He studied piano at Juilliard and later studied at Fisk University and George Peabody College in Nashville.
Kennedy made his solo piano debut at Carnegie Hall in 1958. He taught at Fisk for thirty-three years and was widely known as the director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers from 1957 until 1986. His choral arrangements of Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit and Steal Away have been published. He also served on resource panels for the Tennessee Arts Commission and on the boards of the Nashville Symphony Association and the John W Work III Memorial Foundation.
Matthew Kennedy died on 5 June 2014, aged ninety-three.