Billie Holiday turns 100 today. The talented jazz and blues singer was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia. “Lady Day” as she was popularly known was 44 years old when she passed away. But, what a life Holiday led filled with joy, happiness, pain, drugs, prison and music. And what a voice Holiday possessed. It was a voice that you never forgot once you listened to her sing. Here is a list of Holiday’s albums.
She was notorious for not doing interviews. Here is a rare one, where she talks about her music, and this apparently recorded during one of her music rehearsal sessions when a tape recorder was left on. And here is another short radio interview with Lady Day and if you notice her answers are pretty short. But, we do find out how she got the name “Lady Day” and how she how she developed her unusual singing style. Holiday replies she always wanted to sing like Louis Armstrong played.
A lot has been written about Holiday and her colorful life. Here is a quick and easy article that lists 100 Facts about Billie Holiday. The Paris Review piece on Holiday is a treat to read for it captures that quality of Holidya’s voice and also point you to Rita Dove’s homage to the singer in the form of a poem. Then there is an hour long interesting and absorbing interview by NPR’s Tom Ashbrook on Holiday with John Swzed, a jazz scholar, who wrote a book on Holiday. And if you have the time here is a BBC documentary called “Billie Holiday Story.”
If you’d like to know more about Holiday then follow the hashtag @Billieat100 on Twitter.
I leave you with a song about New Orleans where Holiday is accompanied by Armstrong her favorite musician and his band. New Orleans is where Armstrong was born.