Billie Holiday

Happy Birthday

Eleanora Fagan
April 7, 1915
Philadelphia, PA

Eleanora Fagan better known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz singer with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills. 

Holiday, born in Philadelphia, was a superstar of her day. She first rose to prominence in the 1930’s with a unique style that reinvented the conventions of modern singing and performance. More than 80 years after making her first recording Billie’s legacy continues to embody what is elegant and cool in contemporary music. Holiday’s complicated life and her genre-defining autobiography “Lady Sings the Blues” made her a cultural icon. The evocative, soulful voice which she boldly put forth as a force for good, turned any song she sang into her own. Today, Billie Holiday is remembered for her musical masterpieces, her songwriting skills, creativity and courageous views on inequality and justice.

fter a turbulent childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem, where she was heard by the producer John Hammond, who commended her voice. She signed a recording contract with Brunswick in 1935. Collaborations with Teddy Wilson yielded the hit "What a Little Moonlight Can Do", which became a jazz standard. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Holiday had mainstream success on labels such as Columbia and Decca. By the late 1940s, however, she was beset with legal troubles and drug abuse. After a short prison sentence, she performed at a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, but her reputation deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems.
Though she was a successful concert performer throughout the 1950s with two further sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall, Holiday's bad health, coupled with a string of abusive relationships and ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, caused her voice to wither. Her final recordings were met with mixed reaction, owing to her damaged voice, but were mild commercial successes. Her final album, Lady in Satin, was released in 1958. Holiday died of cirrhosis on July 17, 1959.

She won four Grammy Awards, all of them posthumously, for Best Historical Album. She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973. Lady Sings the Blues, a film about her life, starring Diana Ross, was released in 1972. She is the primary character in the play (later made into a film) Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill; the role was originated by Reenie Upchurch in 1986, and was played by Audra McDonald on Broadway and in the film. In 2017 Holiday was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

Billie had a very turbulent life, overcoming a terrible childhood, drug and alcohol problems, abusive reltionships, legal troubles, and racism to become one of the most influential voices ever. 

​Billie Holiday, died at the age of 44 and is buried at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in Bronx County, NY. Her music and life continue to inspire tributes. Whether it’s Nina Simone covering “Strange Fruit”; Diana Ross starring as Lady Day in the film “Lady Sings the Blues”; U2 penning their hit “Angel Of Harlem”; her image on a United States postage stamp; Time Magazine’s “Song Of The Century” Award; scores of biographies and a dozen Grammy Awards, her emotive voice, innovative technique and touching songs will forever be a hallmark of genius.

Remembering Billie Holiday on her birthday. Thank You for the music Lady Day !
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