“If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.” –Billie Holiday
“Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s more than enough.” – Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz singers of all times, was born April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She spent her difficult early life in Baltimore, Maryland, and was inspired listening to the blues of Bessie Smith. The expressive phrasing and original vocal style that led to her thriving career revealed the melancholy of her life, from a lonely difficult childhood to her later life of broken marriages and substance abuse. Her life story, played by Diana Ross, was the subject of the 1972 award-winning film Lady Sings the Blues. In her tragically short life she earned international fame, performing with the greatest musicians and bands of the era. She collaborated with such jazz giants as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, and Artie Shaw, and broke the race barrier as one of the first African Americans to sing with an all-white band. She died in 1959 at the age of 44, leaving a legacy of recordings and original compositions that ensure her place in the history of music.
Hear Billie Holiday and other great ladies of song ( Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Ethel Waters) in The Ladies Sing the Blues.
GOD BLESS THE CHILD Hardback and CD
by Billie Holiday & Arthur Herzog Jr., illus. by Jerry Pinkney. The lyrics of Holiday’s classic song (written by her in 1939 and first recorded in 1941) are illustrated in this book for children, showing a family moving from rural South to urban North during the Great Migration of the 1930’s. The book includes a CD, with Billie Holiday singing “God Bless the Child.” The song’s message of self-reliance resonates in the historical context, and still speaks to us today. This is a moving musical tribute to all who dared so much to get their own.