Billie Holiday: Most Influential Women In Jazz

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Billie Holiday could be considered one of the most influential women in jazz, if not one of the most influential women in general. She was one of the first to incorporate anti-racist ideals and progressive thoughts through the outlet of music, influencing many others down the road. Her intense desire for equality and change could be due to the immense amounts of hardship during her younger years, which may have very well carried over into her adult singing career. Billie Holiday was abandoned at a very young age as her father was out of the picture and her mother could not care for her, seeing as her mother was only 13 and barely an adult herself (Holiday, 1992). Born in 1915, Holiday was put into the care of her extended family. The living situation was not ideal; a large sum of people were living under one roof. Holiday would also get beat for things she didn’t do, such as wetting the bed, which her cousins child had been doing. Her cousin Ida would beat her regardless of if she pleaded or claimed she hadn’t done it. These were some of the first instances of Holiday experiencing unfair treatment for something she couldn’t control, as she hadn’t ever done anything to deserve the physical punishments. In her autobiography, “Lady Sings the Blues,” Holiday gives the reader insight into many traumatizing moments in her life that had affected …show more content…

The implications of the song were so questionable for the time that Columbia Records did not want to record it, and actually refused, forcing Billie to record with Commodore Records (McNally, 2000). The song had been so politically contestable that it was even banned from the radio and hardly played. Regardless of its banning, people still heard it and it quickly became embedded as a “cult protest song” (McNally). Holiday had successfully created a masterpiece that had implications other than making music for the artist or the company; she had started a

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