Billie Holiday

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Holiday, Billie,

1915–59, American singer, b. Baltimore. Her original name was Eleanora Fagan. She began singing professionally in 1930, and after performing with numerous bands—especially those of Benny GoodmanGoodman, Benny
(Benjamin David Goodman), 1909–86, American clarinetist, composer, and band leader, b. Chicago. Goodman studied clarinet at Hull House. In Chicago he had the opportunity to hear (and eventually to play beside) some of the outstanding jazz musicians of the
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, Teddy Wilson, Count BasieBasie, Count
(William Basie) , 1904–84, American jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer, b. Red Bank, N.J. After working in dance halls and vaudeville in New York City, Basie moved to Kansas City, a major jazz center.
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, and Artie ShawShaw, Artie,
1910–2004, American clarinetist and bandleader, b. New York City as Arthur Jacob Arshawsky. He began playing professionally as a teenager, becoming a studio musician in New York after 1929.
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—she embarked in 1940 on a career of solo appearances in nightclubs and theaters. Her highly personal approach to a song, her individual phrasing and intonation, and the often rough but highly emotional quality of her voice soon earned her a supreme position among modern jazz singers. Although she was financially successful, she suffered many personal disasters, complicated by the drug addiction that she could not overcome and that eventually destroyed her career and hastened her death. She was also known as Lady Day.


See her sometimes factually inaccurate autobiography (1956); biographies by D. Clarke (1994) and S. Nicholson (1995), critical biography by J. Szwed (2015); D. Margolick, Strange Fruit (2000).

Holiday, (Eleanora) Billie “Lady Day”

(1915–59) jazz musician; born in Baltimore, Md. She is the most widely celebrated and influential singer in jazz history, but also one of its most tragic figures, her career hampered by drug addiction, prison sentences, and racial injustice. Between 1933–42, she made a brilliant series of small group recordings featuring Teddy Wilson and Lester Young and appeared with the big bands of Count Basie and Artie Shaw. Her 1939 recording of "Strange Fruit," which depicted a lynching, was a cause célèbre. She appeared in several films, including New Orleans (1946), but by the end of the 1940s her voice had begun to deteriorate, taking on a fragile huskiness that initially added to her emotional appeal. She continued to record and appear as a nightclub performer until 1959. Her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, was published in 1956 and was the basis for a 1973 film biography.
References in periodicals archive ?
Try these: Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues; Bessie Smith, The Anthology Rating .
Long may the legacy and music of Billie Holiday reign, and long may Nina take that legacy forward with her own inimitable style of performance.
Birmingham-born Nina has put together an acclaimed one-woman show to tell the Billie Holiday Story, a concert of 18 songs and stories about the American's tragic and fascinating life.
Shedd Institute for the Arts, first suggested the idea of a Billie Holiday show, Vik's instant response was: "Not with a 10-foot pole.
Referring to Billie Holiday (1915-1959) as the iconic female jazz singer, an independent scholar/biographer examines her contributions to the genre as well as the legendary aspects of her short, troubled life.
In the 1970s, a young woman named Linda Kuehl interviewed over 100 people who knew Billie Holiday for the purpose of writing a book.
Historically noteworthy, in the 1930's it was home to the legendary Hotcha Bar & Grill where Billie Holiday used to perform.
Le present article analyse l'arrestation, le proces et l'acquittement en 1949 de la celebre chanteuse de jazz, Billie Holiday, accusee de possession de stupefiants.
A few hours spent in the company of KCSN can bring the music of everyone from Johnny Cash to Billie Holiday, from Dean Martin to Dick Dale and Lucinda Williams.