Billie Holiday is an incredible American Jazz and Swing singer. She has worldwide recognition in the Jazz Community and she is known as ‘Lady Day’ to her fans. Holiday has had an incredibly innovative as well as influential career. Her influence on the Jazz Music and even pop music is pretty good. She has a really good vocal style, she is strongly inspired by Jazz Instrumentals. She pioneered a rather new way of vocal style. Her style is inspired by Jazz Instrumentalists. She is also great at manipulating tempo and making her whole demeanor seem incredible. Her vocal delivery is quite awesome.
Wo is Billie Holiday?
Billie Holiday was born as Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915. She was born in Philadelphia and she is the daughter of African American teenage couple Sarah Julie Sade Fagal and Clarence Halliday. Sarah moved to Philadelphia at age 19. Her family were evicted from Baltimore.
Eleanora grew up in a really bad part of Baltimore. Her childhood was difficult and tough. She had a mother who worked in the Transportation job, she basically used serve passengers on raildroads.
Holiday was raised by Martha Miller as her mother was nowhere to be seen as she was busy because of her work. In her autobiography, she details more about her early life and it is quite a read.
Anyway, she attended Kindergarten at St. Frances Academy. She also skipped school and her truancy resulted in Juvenile court. She was just nine back then. The government sent her to the House of Good Shepherd which is a reform school. She was baptized a Christian there and lived in the school of nine months.
During this time, her mother had opened a new restaurant so, the two started working long hours in there. Eleanora dropped out of school at just an age of 11.
At this time, She was inclined to music and liked artists such as Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. She also cited West End Blues as a very big influence.
How did Billie Holiday die?
It was in 1959 when Cirrhosis was found in Holiday. This is basically liver failure. The reasons include smoking and drinking. While she had stopped drinking when the disease was first found, she relapsed and started drinking again.
By the end of the year, she lost her weight and became weak but she did not go to the hospital despite the constant pressure of her peers and managers and even fellow singers and journalists. Everyone wanted her to go to a doctor but she denied.
Finally in the month of May, she was taken to the Metropolitan Hospital in NYC for treatment when things became serious. She died on July 1, 1959 at the age of 44.
The death was followed by the last rites according to the Roman Catholic Church. Her exact time of team was 3:10 AM on July 17. Her heart failed her because of Cirrhosis.
While she was a really big artist, she actually died broke. She had been swindled out of her earnings b the labels and her bank balance was a mere US $0.70.
The funeral was held on July 21 in Manhattan and she was buried in Bronx.
Many believe that Billie’s death cause was persecution by public
Billie childhood was not so good and she struggled a lot, she was also victim by many sex predators which she was kid. Many people only say that she is bad and addicted to drug and she is not a good woman but this is wrong, the struggle was real and she has also suffered a lot.
The manager of Billie, Michele Smith also said to The Guardian that, “You cannot judge her without knowing who she really is.”
She was also famous for dating many top celebrities and abusive men, many times she used to fought with them to gain her freedom but many times she was judged and neglected. Once, there was fight between her and one man recall by trombonist Melba Liston that she beat him and hit with coke bottle on his head making it crack.
Holiday life was passing from hell and when she died there was nothing on her bank account, everything was looted by men she used to love and at that time she was not treated like any other white American singer.
When she used to go for performs she used to had separate rooms and she was not even allowed to touch stuffs used by white.
When she released a music Strange Fruit, many racist guys started to threat her including first threat from Federal Bureau of Narcotics , led by known racist Harry Anslinger.
This bureau also banned her from singing this song on any place of the country as well, she was also treated by mislead many times saying that she was drug addict. At the time government was also after her because she was rich, black and never fear woman and she also used to sing Strange Fruit on her concert.
Authorities used to think that she was their number one enemy and they did everything they can to destroy her career as well as her life, although she died from heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver but the main reason was persecution which was main reason of her death as well.
Legacy and Achievements
Billie Holiday has received many awards during her career. She got the Esquire Magazine award multiple times. She was also inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in addition to Jazz Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and more.
A statue of Billie Holiday was erected in Baltimore in the year 1985. The statue was completed in the year 1993 and it was largely inspired by her hit song Strange Fruit.
In the year 2019, NYC also honored holiday with her statue near Queens Borough Hall. In the same year, The New York Times magazine listed Billie Holiday among the hundreds of Artists whose whole discography and recordings were destroyed in a fire that started in the Universal Studios in 2008.
The Billie Holiday Monument is also there which is located at Pennsylvania.
Billie’s career began when she was signed by Columbia Records. Columbia signed her under their sister label Brunswick Records. The, she was moved to Vocalion and OKeh Records. In 10 years she switched three record label. This was common back then.
After that she worked for Commodore Records, Decca Records and even for Aladdin Records in 1951. Later in her life she went to Verve, Chef and finally to Columbia again from 1957 to 1958. After that, her final label stint was with MGM records in 1959.
A lot of Holiday’s recordings were on 78-rpm records before joining the high end levels. She made many albums and had incredible compilations and unreleased material as well when she died. There are many live recordings and box compilation of her greatest hits available for purchase as well.
Her discography has two studio albums, one live album, three EPs and multiple singles. Billie’s most famous is her first album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. Her number one hit is the song Strange Fruit.
She also has a posthumous second album set to be released in 2021. We hope that the album does this legendary artist justice.