Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
but spent most of her poverty stricken childhood in Baltimore. Lady Day, as she was named by
Lester Young, had to overcome many tragedies in her lifetime and yet still became one of the
most popular jazz-blues vocalists of all time.
Billie's Parents, Sally Fagan and Clarence Holiday, were both born in Baltimore. They
married as teens and soon Sally gave birth to Eleanora Fagan. Shortly after the birth, Clarence
Holiday deserted his family to tour with Fletcher Henderson's band. Billie saw little of her
immediate family and she essentially grew up alone, feeling unloved and gaining a lifelong
inferiority complex that led to her taking great risks with her personal life. At age ten Billie was
victimized in a violent rape. When older she worked at a brothel were she cleaned the floors, it
was here that she first listened to the likes of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.
In 1927 she moved to New York City and not knowing any other life she made a living
prostituting herself. She still kept her dream of someday becoming a singer and eventually
convinced the manager of a small nightclub in the city to let her sing a few songs with the house
band. The crowd loved her singing and she was soon discovered by John Hammond. He arranged
for her to record a couple of titles with Benny Goodman in 1933. Although those were not all
that successful, it was the start of her career.
In 1935 she meet up with a pianist named Teddy Wilson, who was in a pick up band. She
traveled with the band for a while and hit it off. People were beginning to learn about a great
singer who had a fresh new style that was a combination of Louis Armstrong's swinging and
Bessie Smith's sound. Over the next seven years she would go on to record some of the greatest
songs of her career. Lady Day was with Count Basie's Orchestra during much of 1937 but, she
was soon kicked out by Count Basie for trying to be too "independent and temperamental." Later
Lester Young and Buck Clayton began recording with Holiday and the music that the three of
them made was timeless. She worked with Artie Shaw's Orchestra for a time in 1938 but still
some problems existed, only one song was recorded and she had to deal with racism, not only
during a Southern tour but in Ne...
... middle of paper ...
...954 with Buddy DeFranco, Red Norvo, Jimmy Kiney, Sonny Clark
with the first piano solo, Beryl Booker with the second piano solo, Red Mitchell on bass, and
Elaine Leighton on drums. It started off with an incredible beat, the guitar, piano and the
trumpets were just painting a great piece. When Billie started singing you could tell that she was
feeling every word that came out of her mouth. The song spoke of the rotten men that she has
know and what really makes a good man, which was something she knew a lot about. One of my
favorite parts of the entire song was the trumpet solo, the trumpet in this song really made you
feel what Lady Day was singing about. The song was already swinging but with a solo like that it
just made you tilt back your head and want to snap your fingers to the beat.
Gourse, Leslie. Billie Holiday: The Tragedy and Triumph of A Lady. Donbury, Connecticut:
Franklin Watts. 1995.
Groothius, Neal. The Unofficial Billie Holiday Website. Bellsouth.net search engine.
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 1999. Holiday, Billie Article. Version 8.29.00.0912. Microsoft
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- Billie Holiday was an African-American jazz singer and songwriter.Billie Holiday was the biological child of Sadie Fagan and Clarence Holiday. Sadie was thirteen when she had Billie. At the same time, Clarence was an irresponsible father who did not care about his daughter's Billie. From Billie's early life, she grew up in a broken family. In other word, she had no father to support throughout her childhood and her mother who was struggling financially as a teen mom that often neglect the time to take care of Billie.... [tags: African American music]
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- Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday were both prominent jazz singer-songwriters during the same time and masters in their own right, but their worlds could not have been further apart. In 1939, while they were both in the midst of experiencing mainstream success, Ella was touring with Ella and her Famous Orchestra and showcasing her perfect pitch and tone to the world while singing songs that would soon become standards to fellow singers and musicians. Billie was singing solo, comfortable with her limited range, and gaining the adoration of audiences nationwide who loved her soulful voice.... [tags: Louis Armstrong, Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, Blues]
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