Billie Holiday (1915–1959)

Born:

7th April 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Billie Holiday’s grave in New York

Died:

17th July 1959 in New York, New York, USA.

Buried:

Saint Raymonds Cemetery, The Bronx, New York, New York, USA.

Some famous singles:
  • Strange Fruit.
  • God Bless the Child.
  • Body and Soul.
  • Lover Man.
  • My Man. (See below for a video.)
  • Plus many more!
Some great recordings:
  • Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944).
  • The Complete Original American Decca Recordings (1944-1950).
  • The Complete Billie Holiday on Verve (1945–1949).
  • Lady in Satin (1958).
Some interesting facts:
  • She was one of the greatest female jazz singers who has ever lived!
  • She had no proper musical training at all!
  • She was nicknamed ‘Lady Day’.
  • Her singing has had a big influence on singers of popular music as well as jazz.
  • She put a lot of emotion into her singing.
  • She could make even the most ordinary song sound exciting!
  • She made her first recordings with Benny Goodman.
  • She also recorded with Louis Armstrong. (See below for a video.)
  • She had a very difficult childhood, but not much is known about it. Nobody’s even sure who her father was! However she chose her surname to be that of the man most likely to be her father, Clarence Holiday.
  • She also had a very difficult life as a adult. She was treated badly by many men.
  • She was quite ill in the last years of her life. Because of this her voice didn’t sound as good as it once had. However, her late recordings are still great because she put so much more emotion into her singing.
  • Unfortunately she was in trouble with the police a lot. In fact she was arrested as she lay dying in hospital.
Official Website

Here is a video of Billie Holiday singing The Blues are Brewin’ (with Louis Armstrong on the trumpet).

Billie Holliday singing ‘The Blues are Brewin”

And here is a video of Billie Holiday singing My Man.

Billie Holiday singing ‘My Man’

Picture credits:
  1. Billie Holiday. This photograph is of Billie Holiday at a court hearing in Los Angeles, California in 1949. The image is in the public domain. Click here for the source of this image, along with the relevant copyright information.
  2. Billie Holiday’s grave in New York. This photograph was taken by Elliot. I have obtained permission to use the image here. Click here for the source of this image.
Video credits:
  1. Billie Holiday – The Blues Are Brewin’.The person who posted this on YouTube writes: A fine video where Lady Day and Satchmo show the world why they came for…
  2. Billie Holiday, My Man. The person who posted this on YouTube writes: On of the best interpretations of Billie with Jimmy Rowles, and in very high quality, ….. take a look.

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