231

With Billie

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
With Billie
Julia Blackburn
Pantheon Press
2005
ISBN: 0-375-40610-7
354 pages

The story behind this portrait of Billie Holiday is a compelling and tragic one. More than 30 years ago, a woman named Linda Kuehl set out to write a biography of Holiday. She conducted over 150 interviews with friends and acquaintances of the singer, but despite years of toil and frustration, she was unable to complete a publishable book. In 1979, after leaving a Count Basie concert in Washington, DC, Kuehl committed suicide by jumping out a hotel window.

Years later, author Julia Blackburn was given access to Kuehl's tapes and notes and used them as the main source for this intriguing new look at Billie Holiday. The result is more than a simple retelling of what is already one of the best known and most bittersweet lives in jazz.

It's a literary documentary that artfully weaves together reminiscences by dozens of those who knew her to provide an intimate picture of Holiday the artist as well as Holiday the person.

What's most refreshing and revealing here is that alongside anecdotes from musicians like Jimmy Rowles, Bobby Tucker and Melba Liston are remembrances by a motley collection of people outside the jazz world - childhood friends from Baltimore, neighbors from New York, fellow junkies, even a police officer who arrested Holiday on a narcotics rap in 1947.

It's their recollections of this brave and determined, if deeply troubled, woman that make this book such a valuable contribution to the Billie Holiday literature. It's a shame that Linda Kuehl is not around to see that all her hard work finally paid off.


Shop

More Articles

Read The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good Book Reviews The Blues: Why It Still Hurts So Good
by Doug Collette
Published: February 20, 2017
Read The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965 Book Reviews The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1965
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge Book Reviews Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 21, 2017
Read Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Bowie: Photographs by Steve Schapiro" Book Reviews Bowie: Photographs by Steve Schapiro
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "Whisper Not: The Autobiography Of Benny Golson" Book Reviews Whisper Not: The Autobiography Of Benny Golson
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth" Book Reviews Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography" Book Reviews What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: March 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!