BILLY CHILDS was born in Los Angeles on March 8th, 1957 to Joseph and Mable Childs. At age six, he was enrolled in piano lessons by his parents, both fervent music lovers. At age 16 he entered the Community School of the Performing Arts, a preparatory music program sponsored by the University of Southern California. In 1975, he entered USC as a composition major, graduating four years later with a bachelor of music in composition under the tutelage of Robert Linn.
Since then Childs has received a number of orchestral commissions, including: Tone Poem for Holly (1993) and Fanfare for the United Races of America (1994), each commissioned and premiered by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; The Distant Land (1995) by the Akron Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Alan Balter; Music for String Orchestra (1989) for the Plymouth Music Series, conducted by Phillip Brunelle; and Concerto for Percussion and Concert Band (1986) by the North Texas State Wind Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Corporan. His oratorio, Just Like Job, also commissioned by the the Akron Symphony Orchestra, had its world premiere on March 15, 1997. Shortly after the completion of Just Like Job, Childs then commenced work on A Day in the Forest of Dreams written for woodwind quintet and piano and commisioned by the Dorian Wind Quintet. The work was premiered in September 1997 at Merkin Hall in New York City, and was recorded in spring of 1998. It was also performed in January 1999 by Childs with members of the L.A. Philharmonic as part of its chamber series. In addition, Childs composed the soundtrack for the Australian movie Flynn. He also has a book of music published by the Hal Leonard Corporation (Artist Transcriptions: The Billy Childs Collection).
Childs’ solo jazz recording career began in 1988, when he released Take For Example, This..., the first of four critically acclaimed albums on the Windham Hill Jazz label. He followed that album with Twilight Is Upon Us (1989), His April Touch (1992), and Portrait of a Player (1993). His next album, I’ve Known Rivers on Stretch/GRP (now Stretch/Concord) was released in 1995. Childs then followed with The Child Within, released on the Shanachie record label in 1996. In two years (1996 & 1997), Childs was nominated three times for a Grammy award; twice for Best Instrumental Composition (1996 – “The Starry Night” from I’ve Known Rivers and 1997 – “Aaron’s Song” from The Child Within) and once for Best Performance by a Jazz Group (1997 – The Child Within). In 2002 Childs received a fourth Grammy nomination in the category of Best Arrangment Accompanying a Vocalist for his arrangement of “Fascinating Rhythm” on The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan (Dianne Reeves). Skim Coat (2000), recorded with Buster Williams and Carl Allen, and Bedtime Stories (2001) are Childs’ most recent recordings to date.
Childs has been commisioned twice by the Monterey Jazz Festival: once to write an extended piano concerto (Concerto for Piano & Jazz Chamber Orchestra – 1994) and also to arrange a set of original compositions for Bobby Hutcherson (1998). In the fall of 2000, Childs arranged, orchestrated, and conducted the Dianne Reeves CD, The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan. Childs immediately followed that project by arranging and orchestrating the Gary Lemel CD Lost in Your Arms. Childs also has recently completed producing the CD Rhythm of Life, by Verve recording artist Claudia Acuna. In addition, he holds a faculty position in composition at UC Irvine, and began teaching a composition analysis course at USC in the fall of 2002. Childs currently lives in Altadena with his wife and two sons.