William Billings (b. Boston, October 7, 1746 – d. Boston, September 26, 1800) was an American choral composer, and is widely regarded as the father of American choral music. Billings created what is now recognized as a uniquely American style.
At the age of 14, the death of his father stopped Billings' formal schooling. He took up tanning and never received formal training in music. "He had one eye, a deformed arm and a harsh voice; he was lame in one leg; and he was addicted to snuff." Married with six children, Billings died in poverty on September 26, 1800. His funeral was announced in the Columbian Centinel: "Died- Mr. William Billings, the celebrated music composer. His funeral will be tomorrow at 4 o'clock, PM from the house of Mrs. Amos Penniman, in Chamber-street, West-Boston."