William Grant Still (May 11, 1895 – December 3, 1978) was a prolific African-American classical composer. Born in Woodville, Mississippi he was the son of two teachers. Growing up with his widowed mother and stepfather originally went to medical school per his mother's wishes. While there he conducted the university band, learned instruments, and began composing. He later attended Oberlin Conservatory of Music and studied at the New England Conservatory before enlisting in the US Navy and serving in World War I. His career took off in the years afterward. He was the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra, the first to have his own orchestra performed by a leading orchestra, the first to stage an opera with a major company, and the first to have an opera performed on live television. He married Verna Arvey, a journalist and pianist, in 1939. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles.