Billy Childs was born in Los Angeles. Having demonstrated an aptitude for piano as early as age six, Childs developed rapidly, and at age sixteen entered the Community School of the Performing Arts, a preparatory music program sponsored by the University of Southern California, studying theory with Marienne Uszler and piano with John Weisenfluh. 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 Mr. 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 cantata, 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. In early 2004, Childs completed “For Suzanne” a commissioned composition for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which was premiered by Childs, the L. A. Philharmonic, and Dianne Reeves, on January 24, 2004 in the newly constructed Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry. In October 2004 Childs completed “The Fierce Urgency Of Now”, a musical setting of various texts by Dr. Martin Luther King. It was performed by Childs, Wynton Marsalis, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra as part of the inaugural concert series for the new Jazz At Lincoln Center facility. On April 24, 2005, Childs’ cantata for the Los Angeles Master Chorale entitled “The Voices Of Angels” was premiered at Walt Disney concert hall. After the performance, Childs, along with soloist, Luciana Souza and conductor, Grant Gershon received a ten minute standing ovation and three curtain calls.