Friday, February 03, 2006

Black History Spotlight: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday's grandfather was one of 17 children of a black Virginia slave and a white Irish plantation owner. Her mother was only 13 when she was born.

The future "Lady Day" first heard the music of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith on a Victrola at Alice Dean's, the Baltimore "house of ill repute" where she ran errands and scrubbed floors as a young girl. She made her singing debut in obscure Harlem nightclubs (borrowing her professional name from screen star Billie Dove), then toured with Count Basie and Artie Shaw before going solo. Benny Goodman dragged the frightened singer to her first studio session. Between 1933 and 1944, she recorded over 200 "sides," but she never received royalties for any of them.

Despite a lack of technical training, Holiday's unique diction, inimitable phrasing and acute dramatic intensity made her the outstanding jazz singer of her day. White gardenias, worn in her hair, became her trademark. "Singing songs like the 'The Man I Love' or 'Porgy' is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck," she wrote in her autobiography. "I've lived songs like that." Her own compositions included "God Bless the Child," espousing the virtues of financial independence and "Don't Explain," lament on infidelity.

Billie Holiday, a musical legend still popular today, died an untimely death at the age of 44.



10 comments:








Anonymous

said...

She was so amzing





Anonymous

said...

GOD BLESS THE CHILD....





Anonymous

said...

that was great ..i am from baltimore and there is alot of history here... that was nice to read ...





imnew

said...

i love how you do a profile of african american legends. billie is a true talent.





Reese

said...

She is my all time favorite. I love how u showing her love :) Billie Holliday and Lena Horne are the best!





Pink-Diamondz

said...

My mom loves her and so do i,im also loving how your doing profile of african americans no other blog is doing it its glad to see someone appreciates black history month and everything african americans have achieved.





Anonymous

said...

can't name anyone today that could touch billie vocally. and i mean NO ONE!!!

great job with your spotlights. not many young ppl know the "real" singers of our past.





Anonymous

said...

so this is where Fantasia's song comes from. I learn something new everday. I love your profiles!





Nee

said...

Lady Day is just amazing--it's her phrasing, that haunting tone, the truth in her voice--WOO! I just got a shiver thinking about it!





Anonymous

said...

The pic of billie and the boxer (dog) is hardcore.