It’s no question that Billie Holiday was one of the greats, with her gorgeous soft yet powerful voice and the complete knack of grabbing you by the ears and making you listen to only want more.
I want to celebrate her. I want to celebrate her for her legacy, her intelligence, her beauty and most of all her soul – the soft, broken and sweet soul you can hear pour out of every drop of her music and voice.
Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915, she was raised by her single mother and her grandmother. By the time she was a young teenager, she was singing in nightclubs across Harlem. Through her performing she met several talented musicians that she teamed up with throughout the years of her career, making some of the best jazz music in the world.
People comment on her lack of formal training – but her personality, interesting vocal range, soft yet raspy tone, and individual way of singing made way for her success. Her autobiography, ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ was published in 1958 where she openly discussed her long fight with drug and alcohol abuse.
‘Strange Fruit’ is arguably her most famous song, along with ‘I’ll Be Seeing You.’ She was the first person to sing and record Strange Fruit. Written by teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem and published in 1937, it protested racism within America, particularly the lynching of African Americans.
Her intelligence, talent, personality and soft yet powerful music are things to be appreciated forever. She gave so much to the world of music and continues today. Thank you, Billie – for your 30-years of singing the blues.
Featured Image by Don Hunstein