Billie HolidayFour Classic AlbumsAvid Records2011 Back in the 1950s, when the American people were buying television sets and driving gas guzzlers on brand new superhighways under the threat of nuclear war, singer Billie Holiday was still turning out fine performances on record and on stage, defying a lot of expectations raised by her wayward lifestyle. Holiday only had a few years left--she died in 1959--but continued performing right up to the end. Her most influential recordings were behind her and her last recordings weren't perfect, but producer Norman Granz was able ...read more
Billie HolidayThe Complete Commodore & Decca MastersVerve Music Group2010 In 1959, Nina Simone made a black-pride point about her hit single, I Loves You Porgy," very publicly proclaiming that she refused to use the (to her) demeaning dialect pronunciation loves," substituting love." It was the same year that Billie Holiday died, but few remembered that Holiday had, without fanfare, simply sang love" instead of loves" in her exquisite 1948 recording of the Gershwin song. That Decca recording, as well as 51 other recordings Holiday made between 1939 and 1950, many of ...read more
Billie Holiday Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday Naxos 2009
Billie Holiday has long been acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time. With her extensive catalogue of recordings for several labels, Holiday's music has been readily accessible though relatively little live footage with audio is available. Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday integrates film and video performances, recordings, words from her controversial autobiography (read by actress Ruby Dee) and interviews with artists who played with her (pianist Mal Waldron, trumpeter Buck Clayton and ...read more
Fifty years ago, on July 17, 1959, Billie Holiday died an untimely death at age 44 in a New York hospital from complications of drug and alcohol dependency. Now, half a century after her passing, it is an appropriate hommage to reflect once again on her legacy as a singer, an African American woman, a victim-- of a traumatic childhood, spousal abuse, and substance dependence--and a powerful creative force for the times she lived in. Though less of a pop star" (and much more of a true artist) than the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, Billie ...read more
Becoming Billie Holiday Carole Boston Weatherford Hardcover; 120 pages ISBN: 159078507X Wordsong Press 2008
Award-winning poet and professor Carole Boston Weatherford's latest, excellent book, Becoming Billie Holiday--a fictional verse memoir, as Weatherford describes it--reaches out and grabs the reader's attention as if Holiday herself was on stage and her entire life was unfolding before your very eyes. Weatherford's wonderful poems, which have titles from Holiday's songbook, are so vivid and touching that they resemble vignettes or snippets of a life that had a right to sing the blues. ...read more
Billie Holiday Lady Day--The Master Takes and Singles Columbia-Legacy 2007 Billie Holiday Rare Live Recordings 1934-1959 ESP-Disk 2007
The earliest 11 sides on Lady Day, a quartet box of discs taken from the Grammy Award-winning 10-CD box of 2001, are among the many cuts with pianist Teddy Wilson's orchestra. Only 20 years old at the time, the easy assurance with which Holiday tosses off I Wished On The Moon" would be ...read more
The mystique associated with musical artists who have passed away often preoccupies those who continue to maintain an avid interest in the past of those musicians. A question to ask though is: how can anyone possibly know the internal perils and joys of these intriguing artistic beings? No matter how much research is done or how much listening occurs, there is an undeniable limit to what can be discussed or interpreted.
The release of Billie Holiday: Rare Live Recordings, 1934-1959, offers the opportunity to hear Holiday on the side of history. There is something extraordinarily intimate about the ...read more
Billie Holiday Lady Day - The Master Takes And Singles Columbia Records 2007
It's fitting that singer Billie Holiday began the most celebrated part of her career with Columbia in 1933, when the country was in the throes of the depression, and ended it in 1942, when the world was gripped by war. Her anguished delivery fit in perfectly with the times. As she projected the torments of her life through music, she gave us an escape from our own troubles, by reminding us of how bad life could get. Regardless, Holiday's ...read more
Billie Holiday began singing professionally in the early 1930s and toured and recorded until her death in 1959. Her only hiatus from performing came during a 10-month stay at the Federal Woman's Reformatory in Alederton, West Virginia for drug possession in 1947. Her story reveals the symbiosis between personal pain and early jazz, and that story is best told through her recordings. Two reissues from the early and middle portions of her career show both the gradual demise of her singing ability and a descent into self-revelation so painful that all questions of ability are silenced.
Lady Sings The Blues: The 50th Anniversary Edition Billie Holiday with William Dufty Softcover; 231 pages ISBN: 978-0-7679-2386-6 Harlem Moon/Broadway Books 2006
In 1956 Billie Holiday sat down with ghostwriter William Dufty and recounted the story of her life. At times during the 224-page narrative Holiday seems compelled to justify the telling of her tale and issues rueful warnings about the dangers of drug use, as if her artistry were not enough to warrant interest in her as a person, as if the public shame of her various addictions nullified ...read more
She came on last at a concert that started at midnight at the Lowe's Sheraton on Seventh Avenue in The Village. It was one of those big, everybody-gets-to-play jam sessions they called concerts then, and it probably cost the promoters less than what Kenny G spends on hair gel these days. But there were at least a dozen top-flight groups including Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Chet Baker's quartet, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims with Conte Candoli. But Billie Holiday was the only singer. And the only female. The girl singer." A few of my friends and I, just ...read more
Julia Blackburn With Billie Pantheon Books ISBN: 0-375-40610-7 368 pages
In 1974 the Mark Twain Hotel renamed rooms 203 and 204 as the Billie Holiday Suite. It was decorated with period pieces from her stay in 1949, but it also featured framed newspaper reports from the drug bust that happened there as well. This story from the new book With Billie illuminates a familiar occurrence in Holiday's life: her drug use sometimes overshadowed the brilliance of her singing.
The drama and tragedy of Holiday's life have always made her a ...read more
A search on Amazon reveals an absurd total of 498 Billie Holiday titles, including imports and out-of- print albums. That begs the question, Do we really need another Holiday compilation? Two releases from Europe try to provide an affirmative answer.
Billie Holiday 1937-1952 Nocturne
The first collection, a two-disc set from the French Nocturne label covers the years 1937-1952 and seems geared primarily to jazz novices. The two discs are divided along the rather clumsy lines of Bluesy Billie and Swinging Billie . Since Holiday imbued everything she sang with a palpable melancholy and had no ...read more
Though born in Baltimore, Billie Holiday had strong ties to Massachusetts throughout her career. Her final performance, in fact, took place in Lowell, cradle of the industrial revolution. Long before that tragic set, however, Holiday recorded a series of shows at George Wein’s legendary Boston club Storyville. Though separated by two years from 1951-53, these discreet recordings capture Lady Day" in prime emotive voice. From the first of Carl Drunkard’s watery piano drops which open I Cover The Waterfront" to Sten Getz’s peppy sax supports in the abbreviated closer You’re Driving Me Crazy," Holiday evokes a wide palette of feels ...read more
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