Billie Holliday's Life

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Billie Holliday's life was tragic. Born into poverty and out-of-wedlock, she rose to a position of artistic preeminence in the world of jazz, but her personal life was one of constant turmoil and struggle. She fought seemingly endless wars-with drug addiction, narcotics agents' harassment, racial discrimination, self-serving lovers, and with human parasites in and out of the music business. Withal, her vocal artistry was joyously and bitters sweetly transcendent. Many serious listeners consider her the greatest jazz vocalist ever. She was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915, in Baltimore, Maryland. (The name "Billie" she later borrowed from one of her favorite movie actresses, Billie Dove.) At the time of Billie's birth, her mother, Sadie…show more content…
He named her "Lady Day," and that title (or simply "Lady") became her jazz world soubriquet from the mid-1930s on; she labeled him "President of Tenor Saxophonists."Their musical symbiosis, especially on the 1935-1939 small-group recordings, is one of the miracles of jazz; on "This Year's Kisses," "He's Funny That Way," "A Sailboat in the Moonlight," "Me, Myself and I," "Mean to Me," and a raft of other tunes tenor sax and voice interweave so sympathetically that they sound as if they're poured from the same bottle. After the late 1930s they rarely recorded together, but to the end remained soulmates as Romeo and Juliet. (They died the same year Lester died March and Billie Holliday died July) Billie's career reached its zenith in the very late 1930s. In 1938 she shaped a prolonged engagement at Cafe Society; the following year she joined Benny Goodman on a radio broadcast; she was regularly operating the massive New York theaters and the famous 52nd Street clubs, including Kelly's Stables and the Onyx Club all in addition to her recording successes. Two songs of the period are noteworthy: the first, "Strange Fruit," with a haunting lyric by Lewis Allan to which Billie contributed the music, is a graphic depiction of a lynching; her record company,
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