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A biography of billie holiday an american singer

Comments Considered by many to be the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, Billie Holiday lived a tempestuous and difficult life.

Billie Holiday

Her singing expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work as great as any vocalist before or since.

  • Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work as great as any vocalist before or since;
  • Desperate for money, Holiday looked for work as a dancer at a Harlem speakeasy;
  • It is a tragedy that only after her death could a society, who had so often held her down, realize that in her voice could be heard the true voice of the times.

Living in extreme poverty, Holiday dropped out of school in the fifth grade and found a job running errands in a brothel. When she was twelve, Holiday moved with her mother to Harlem, where she was eventually arrested for prostitution. Desperate for money, Holiday looked for work as a dancer at a Harlem speakeasy. This led to a number of other jobs in Harlem jazz clubs, and by 1933 she had her first major breakthrough.

Billie Holiday Biography

She was only twenty when the well-connected jazz writer and producer John Hammond heard her fill in for a better-known performer.

Soon after, he reported that she was the greatest singer he had ever heard. Her bluesy vocal style brought a slow and rough quality to the jazz standards that were often upbeat and light. This combination made for poignant and distinctive renditions of songs that were already standards.

By slowing the tone with emotive vocals that reset the timing and rhythm, she added a new dimension to jazz singing. Together, Young and Holiday would create some of the greatest jazz recordings of all time. Due to constant racial attacks, Holiday had a difficult time touring and spent much of the 1940s working in New York.

  1. During her lifetime she had fought racism and sexism, and in the face of great personal difficulties triumphed through a deep artistic spirit.
  2. In 1933 Holiday made her first recordings, with Benny Goodman and others.
  3. I started working when I was six years old.
  4. Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work as great as any vocalist before or since. As a child Billie started working very young, running errands and cleaning a house of prostitution's a place where sexual acts are traded for money marble stoop.
  5. In 1928 she moved with her mother from Baltimore , Maryland where she had spent her childhood , to New York City, and after three years of subsisting by various means, she found a job singing in a Harlem nightclub. Nicknamed Lady Day by her loyal friend and musical partner, Lester Young, Holiday was a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing.

Though one of the highest paid performers of the time, much of her income went to pay for her serious drug addictions. Though plagued by health problems, bad relationships, and addiction, Holiday remained an unequaled performer. By 1950, the authorities denied her a license to perform in establishments selling alcohol.

Though she continued to record and perform afterward, this marked the major turning point in her career.

About the Singer

For the next seven years, Holiday would slip deeper into alcoholism and begin to lose control of her once perfect voice. In 1959, after the death of her good friend Lester Young and with almost nothing to her name, Billie Holiday died at the age of forty-four. During her lifetime she had fought racism and sexism, and in the face of great personal difficulties triumphed through a deep artistic spirit.

It is a tragedy that only after her death could a society, who had so often held her down, realize that in her voice could be heard the true voice of the times. What did you think?