Billings was a self-taught colonial American choral composer widely regarded as the father of American choral music. Originally a tanner by trade, and lacking formal training in music, Billings created what is now recognized as a uniquely American style. A contemporary account describes him thus: "He had one eye, a deformed arm and a harsh voice; he was lame in one leg; and he was addicted to snuff." Most of his compositions are part-songs and fuguing tunes for four voices, known by their tune names such as Africa and Chester.
Birth / Death Dates
1746 - 1800