JAZZ`S FIRST DIVA: BILLIE HOLIDAY
Louis McKay and Billie Holiday Louis Mckay, Lady Sings The Blues, Jazz Blues, . McKay had the reputation of being Billie's drug connection but Hale disputes. Eleanora Fagan (April 7, – July 17, ), better known as Billie Holiday, was an .. By the s, Holiday's drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men . On March 28, , Holiday married Louis McKay, a Mafia enforcer. Billie Holiday and husband Louis McKay (pictured above) were portrayed by By the 's, Holiday's drug abuse, drinking and relationships with abusive men .
She is raped at Billie and her mother are arrested for prostitution in New York. Starts her singing career at the tables of Harlem clubs; her scorn for required gimmicks such as picking up tips between her legs earns her the nickname "Lady".
Makes a celebrated concert debut at New York's Apollo. The MC announces, "It ain't the blues… I don't know what it is, but you got to hear her. Records the first of more than records she would make with pianist Teddy Wilson between andwhich many consider her best.
Tours with bandleaders Count Basie and Artie Shaw, becoming one of the first black singers to sing with a white orchestra. Records anti-lynching song Strange Fruit.
Marries Jimmy Monroe, the younger brother of a Harlem nightclub owner. The marriage almost immediately hits the rocks, but they don't divorce until A pathological liar, she claimed she was married to two of her many abusive boyfriends in the meantime. Records Lover Man with Decca, her only Billboard hit. Achieves her dream of acting in a film - New Orleans, a Hollywood history of jazz.
It's dreadful, saved only by the music and her own luminous performance as a maid. Sentenced to a year's jail for heroin possession; she has been an addict since the early s. A very public spell in rehab follows.
Her concert at New York's Carnegie Hall breaks the house record - but Holiday believes the crowds came just to see the scars on her arms.
Records duets with her hero Louis Armstrong; arrested for opium possession. Her fame goes global as she tours Europe and sings at the Newport Jazz Festival. She was born Eleanora — but the rest of her original name is in dispute.
Some say she was Eleanora Fagan Gough. Others say Eleanora Holiday, and yet others Eleanora Fagan. Even her birthplace is in doubt. Most biographers give it as Baltimore, but one claims it was Philadelphia. And some sources state that she was born April 7,others give the date as April 17,and at least one suggests she might have been born as early as But many accept that our iconic jazz vocalist Billie Holiday was born April 7,in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years before she lost her battle with substance abuse.
Her mother was 13 when she was born.Billie Holiday - Singer - Mini Bio - BIO
Clarence later played banjo and guitar with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, but he abandoned his daughter, never marrying her mother. Billie Holiday and Her Mother The child of a child, Holiday had an abusive childhood, was raped at 10, and subsequently worked in brothels as both a domestic and as a prostitute.
Only 9 years old at the time, Holiday was one of the youngest girls there. She was returned to her mother's care in August of that year. Wishing on the Moon, she returned there in after she had been sexually assaulted. She followed her mother who had moved to New York City in the late s and worked in a house of prostitution in Harlem for a time.
AroundHoliday began singing in local clubs and renamed herself "Billie. A demo was made with Dot Hill, but it disappeared without a trace, no one even remembering what tune she sang. On November 27,Hammond was instrumental in getting Holiday recording work with an up-and-coming clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman. With Goodman, she sang vocals for several tracks, including her first commercial release "Your Mother's Son-In-Law" and the top ten hit "Riffin' the Scotch.
Jazz composer Duke Ellington sits with Billie Holiday and pianist and music critic Leonard Feather in this photo. Holiday starred in a short film with Ellington in and toured Europe with Feather in He even lived with Holiday and her mother Sadie for a while. Young gave Holiday the nickname "Lady Day" in —the same year she joined Basie's band. A performer had to renew the license every two years. The system lasted until Club owners knew blacklisted performers had limited work and could offer a smaller salary.
This reduced Holiday's earnings. She had not received proper record royalties until she joined Decca, so her main revenue was club concerts. The problem worsened when Holiday's records went out of print in the s. She seldom received royalties in her later years. Her manager, John Levy, was convinced he could get her card back and allowed her to open without one. I was a huge success.
Lady Sings the Blues[ edit ] By the s, Holiday's drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men caused her health to deteriorate. Her later recordings showed the effects of declining health on her voice, as it grew coarse and no longer projected its former vibrancy. Holiday first toured Europe in as part of a Leonard Feather package. In later years, her voice became more fragile, but it never lost the edge that had always made it distinctive.
Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blueswas ghostwritten by William Dufty and published in Dufty, a New York Post writer and editor then married to Holiday's close friend Maely Dufty, wrote the book quickly from a series of conversations with the singer in the Duftys' 93rd Street apartment.
He also drew on the work of earlier interviewers and intended to let Holiday tell her story in her own way.
Billie Holiday: inimitable and triumphant
The Musician and the Myth, John Szwed argued that Lady Sings the Blues is a generally accurate account of her life, and that co-writer Dufty was forced to water down or suppress material by the threat of legal action. According to the reviewer Richard Brody"Szwed traces the stories of two important relationships that are missing from the book—with Charles Laughtonin the s, and with Tallulah Bankheadin the late s—and of one relationship that's sharply diminished in the book, her affair with Orson Welles around the time of Citizen Kane.
The 13 tracks included on this album featured her own songs " I Love My Man ", " Don't Explain " and " Fine and Mellow ", together with other songs closely associated with her, including " Body and Soul ", " My Man ", and "Lady Sings the Blues" her lyrics accompanied a tune by pianist Herbie Nichols. Interspersed among Holiday's songs, Millstein read aloud four lengthy passages from her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues.
The narration began with the ironic account of her birth in Baltimore — 'Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three' — and ended, very nearly shyly, with her hope for love and a long life with 'my man' at her side.
It was evident, even then, that Miss Holiday was ill. I had known her casually over the years and I was shocked at her physical weakness. Her rehearsal had been desultory; her voice sounded tinny and trailed off; her body sagged tiredly. But I will not forget the metamorphosis that night. The lights went down, the musicians began to play and the narration began.
Miss Holiday stepped from between the curtains, into the white spotlight awaiting her, wearing a white evening gown and white gardenias in her black hair. She was erect and beautiful; poised and smiling. And when the first section of narration was ended, she sang — with strength undiminished — with all of the art that was hers.
I was very much moved. In the darkness, my face burned and my eyes. I recall only one thing. He wrote of Holiday's performance: Throughout the night, Billie was in superior form to what had sometimes been the case in the last years of her life. Not only was there assurance of phrasing and intonation; but there was also an outgoing warmth, a palpable eagerness to reach and touch the audience.
And there was mocking wit. A smile was often lightly evident on her lips and her eyes as if, for once, she could accept the fact that there were people who did dig her. The beat flowed in her uniquely sinuous, supple way of moving the story along; the words became her own experiences; and coursing through it all was Lady's sound — a texture simultaneously steel-edged and yet soft inside; a voice that was almost unbearably wise in disillusion and yet still childlike, again at the centre.
The audience was hers from before she sang, greeting her and saying good-bye with heavy, loving applause. And at one time, the musicians too applauded. It was a night when Billie was on top, undeniably the best and most honest jazz singer alive. Both were less than two years from death. Young died in March Holiday wanted to sing at his funeral, but her request was denied. When Holiday returned to Europe almost five years later, inshe made one of her last television appearances for Granada's Chelsea at Nine in London.
Her final studio recordings were made for MGM Records inwith lush backing from Ray Ellis and his Orchestra, who had also accompanied her on the Columbia album Lady in Satin the previous year see below.
The MGM sessions were released posthumously on a self-titled album, later retitled and re-released as Last Recording. McKay, like most of the men in her life, was abusive.
Holiday was childless, but she had two godchildren: Although she had initially stopped drinking on her doctor's orders, it was not long before she relapsed. Her manager Joe Glaserjazz critic Leonard Featherphotojournalist Allan Morrison, and the singer's own friends all tried in vain to persuade her to go to a hospital. Anslingerhad been targeting Holiday since at least In her final years, she had been progressively swindled out[ by whom?
Her funeral Mass was on July 21,at the Church of St.
Billie Holiday: inimitable and triumphant - Telegraph
Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. She was buried at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx. Gilbert Millstein, of New York Timeswho was the announcer at Holiday's Carnegie Hall concerts and wrote parts of the sleeve notes for the album The Essential Billie Holiday see abovedescribed her death in these sleeve notes, dated Billie Holiday died in Metropolitan Hospital, New York, on Friday, July 17,in the bed in which she had been arrested for illegal possession of narcotics a little more than a month before, as she lay mortally ill; in the room from which a police guard had been removed — by court order — only a few hours before her death, which, like her life, was disorderly and pitiful.
She had been strikingly beautiful, but she was wasted physically to a small, grotesque caricature of herself. The worms of every kind of excess — drugs were only one — had eaten her. The likelihood exists that among the last thoughts of this cynical, sentimental, profane, generous and greatly talented woman of 44 was the belief that she was to be arraigned the following morning. She would have been, eventually, although possibly not that quickly. In any case, she removed herself finally from the jurisdiction of any court here below.
Her improvisation compensated for lack of musical education. Her contralto voice  lacked range and was thin, and years of drug use altered its texture and gave it a fragile, raspy sound. Holiday said that she always wanted her voice to sound like an instrument and some of her influences were Louis Armstrong and the singer Bessie Smith.
I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of "I'm a Fool to Want You. After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes.
I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn't until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was.
He told Ebony magazine in about her impact: With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius.
It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.
Billie Holiday discography Billie Holiday recorded extensively for four labels: Columbia Recordswhich issued her recordings on its subsidiary labels Brunswick RecordsVocalion Recordsand OKeh Recordsfrom through ; Commodore Records in and ; Decca Records from through ; briefly for Aladdin Records in ; Verve Records and on its earlier imprint Clef Records ; from throughthen again for Columbia Records from to and finally for MGM Records in Many of Holiday's recordings appeared on rpm records prior to the long-playing vinyl record eraand only Clef, Verve, and Columbia issued albums during her lifetime that were not compilations of previously released material.