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BILLIE HOLIDAY

Billie Holiday is considered the world’s greatest jazz singer, impossible to imitate but hugely influential. Born into poverty, she worked as a young girl in a brothel where she heard the recordings of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong and developed her own singing style. With a small voice and limited range, she could put more emotion into a song and swing it harder with her phrasing than more gifted vocalists. Her early recordings can make you weep, and as she aged prematurely from heroin addiction, alcohol, and abusive relationships, her voice lost much of its elasticity but none of its emotion.

Promoter John Hammond discovered and recorded her with Benny Goodman in 1933 and Teddy Wilson in 1935. After a brief stint with the Basie band in 1937, she toured the South with Artie Shaw’s all-white band in 1938, experiencing racism first-hand. Billie was a musician’s singer, attracting the finest instrumentalists, among them Lester Young whose style on saxophone much resembled Billie’s. They became lifelong friends—she called him “Pres,” short for “The President,” and he named her “Lady Day.”

Billie introduced many songs, among them “Easy Living” (1937), “Fine and Mellow” (1939), “God Bless the Child,” (1941) and “Lover Man” (1944) with which she had a big hit. “Good Morning Heartache”(1945) and “Don’t Explain” (1946) are also inextricably linked to her. An entire book has been written about just one song, “Strange Fruit,” which Billie introduced at Café Society in 1939. Its gruesome lyrics by Abel Meeropol are the strongest indictment of racism ever penned.

To perceive the magic that was Billie one need only watch her 1957 television appearance on The Sound of Jazz with Young, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Gerry Mulligan and Roy Eldridge. Her empathy with “Pres” on “Fine and Mellow” is sheer ecstasy.

© Sandra Burlingame

Courtesy of JazzStandards.com


Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
View by Role: Classical Artist | Non-Classical Artist | Classical Composer | Non-Classical Composer | Lyricist
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title  Catalogue No  Work Category 

Role: Non-Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
ARMSTRONG, Louis: Sing It, Satchmo (1945-1955) (Louis Armstrong, Vol. 8) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120818
Jazz
Commercial Grooves: Nostalgic Tracks from TV Adverts Naxos Nostalgia
8.120798
Nostalgia
GERSHWIN, G.: 'S Wonderful - Songs of George Gershwin (1929-1949) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120828
Nostalgia
GIANTS OF JAZZ Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120756-57
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Easy Living (1935-1939) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120545
Nostalgia
HOLIDAY, Billie: Fine and Mellow (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120583
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Trav'lin' Light (1940-1944) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120701
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: You're My Thrill (1944-1949) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120750
Jazz
JAZZ LEGENDS - Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller Naxos Jazz Legends
8.102002
Nostalgia, Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
MASTERS OF AMERICAN MUSIC: Lady Day - The Many Faces of Billie Holiday (NTSC) EuroArts
2057098
Jazz DVD
SHAW, Artie: Concertos for Clarinet (1937-1940) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120802
Jazz
ULTIMATE MUSICALS COLLECTION (THE) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120854-55
Nostalgia
ULTIMATE VOCAL COLLECTION (THE) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120863-64
Nostalgia
WILSON, Teddy: Blues in C-Sharp Minor (1935-1937) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120665
Jazz

Role: Classical Composer 
Album Title  Catalogue No  Work Category 
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE AIRMEN OF NOTE: Children of the Night Altissimo
75442270142
Contemporary Jazz
UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND JAZZ AMBASSADORS: In Concert Altissimo
75442270022
Wind Ensemble/Band Music

Role: Non-Classical Composer 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
AIR COMBAT COMMAND HERITAGE OF AMERICA BAND: Jazz Sketches Altissimo
75442261662
Contemporary Jazz
ALLEN, Jackie: Which? Naxos Jazz
86042-2
Contemporary Jazz
Commercial Grooves: Nostalgic Tracks from TV Adverts Naxos Nostalgia
8.120798
Nostalgia
COMMODORES JAZZ ENSEMBLE: Sessions on M. Street, S.E. Altissimo
75442270042
Contemporary Jazz
GIANTS OF JAZZ Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120756-57
Jazz
HAMPTON: Lionel Hampton and his Golden Men of Jazz TDKDVD
DV-JLHGMJ
Contemporary Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Fine and Mellow (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120583
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Trav'lin' Light (1940-1944) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120701
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: You're My Thrill (1944-1949) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120750
Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
ULTIMATE VOCAL COLLECTION (THE) Naxos Nostalgia
8.120863-64
Nostalgia
UNITED STATES CONTINENTAL ARMY BAND: New Frontiers Altissimo
75442262282
Contemporary Jazz

Role: Lyricist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
HOLIDAY, Billie: Fine and Mellow (1936-1941) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120583
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: Trav'lin' Light (1940-1944) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120701
Jazz
HOLIDAY, Billie: You're My Thrill (1944-1949) Naxos Jazz Legends
8.120750
Jazz
Jazzin Legeanat - 60 kaikkien aikojen klassikkoa Naxos Jazz Legends
8.103014
Jazz
UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND JAZZ AMBASSADORS: In Concert Altissimo
75442270022
Wind Ensemble/Band Music
UNITED STATES CONTINENTAL ARMY BAND: New Frontiers Altissimo
75442262282
Contemporary Jazz





 
 
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