Jazz musician and composer Billie Holiday would have been 102 years old today. She was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia and died rather young on July 17, 1959.
Holiday was a gifted singer, whose voice captured deep and complex emotions in an effortless manner. You simply can’t be indifferent to Holiday’s music, especially her voice. Emotional, moody, soulful are some of the words that come to mind when you listen to her sing. There was something magical about her voice that made you sit up and take notice. You simply cannot ignore Holiday’s voice.
Holiday has the ability to convey emotion writes Tom Vitale in this article. He points out that Holiday was greatly influence by Louis Armstrong’s vocal style. Until I read Vitale’s article I had not made the connection on how strong Armstrong’s influence was on Holiday.
“Even when she sang a happy song, she seemed half in a dream world she wasn’t sure she should share,” writes Geoffrey Himes in What Makes Billie Holiday’s Music So Powerful Today.
Holiday started singing in the 1930s. “There was something special about her. Jazz musicians and some fans heard it, and so did a young record producer named John Hammond. He heard an 18-year-old Holiday sing in a small club in April 1933, writes John McDonough. Holiday came to be noticed in 1939 when she sang Strange Fruit.
Here a rare interview of Holiday talking about jazz and the book she wrote The Lady Sings The Blues.
Here are a couple of songs from Holiday for your listening pleasure. Did I mention that April is #JazzAppreciation month?