Billie Holiday

(redirected from Eleanora Fagan)

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 ?
The odds were stacked against Eleanora Fagan, who was born to unwed teenage parents in Philadelphia on April 7, 1915.
1915: Billie Holiday - ''Lady Day''- said by some to be the greatest jazz singer of all time - was born in Baltimore as Eleanora Fagan.
A musical homage to legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915) on the 100th anniversary of the singer's birth, Coming Forth By Day is Cassandra Wilson's moody, soulful showcase for contemporary yet timeless interpretations of standards associated with Lady Day.
1915: Billie Holiday, said by some to be the greatest jazz singer of all time was born in Baltimore as Eleanora Fagan.
1915: Billie Holiday, "Lady Day", said by some to be the greatest jazz singer of all time, was born in Baltimore as Eleanora Fagan.
Their original names are, i) Florence Nightingale Graham, ii) Camile Javal, iii) Tula Elice Finklea, iv) Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, v) Margaret Hookham, vi) Frances Gumm, vii) Caryn Johnson, viii) Eleanora Fagan, ix) Norma Jean Baker, and, x) Marjorie Robertson.
A She was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Born out of wedlock in Baltimore in 1915, the former Eleanora Fagan began singing in Harlem nightclubs around 1931.
1915: Birth of American jazz singer Billie Holiday: Billie Holiday, with the original name of Eleanora Fagan, was the daughter of Clarence Holiday, a professional musician who for a time played guitar with the Fletcher Henderson band.
1915: Billie Holiday, said by some to be the greatest jazz singer of all time, was born in Baltimore as Eleanora Fagan.
Named Eleanora Fagan, she performed as Billie Holiday, but was also widely known as "Lady Day.
Which American jazz singer was born Eleanora Fagan in 1915?