Billie Holiday<br />The Rise and Fall of One of the Greatest Jazz Singers<br />Kyra Bedell<br />Professor Sean Abel<br />Music 34<br />22 July 2011<br />
"No one can figure out your worth but you." - Pearl Bailey<br /><ul><li>It is a known fact that women have come a long way in the music industry.
It is also a known that African Americans have come a very far way in the United States.
It is known that women and African Americans were discriminated and judged all to often in early America, especially when it comes to music.
It is also know that good can come from bad. If a persons determination is strong enough they can accomplish anything.</li></li></ul><li> Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the seventh of April, 1915 to Sarah “Sadie” Fagan who had Billie at the young age of thirteen years old.<br />Billie Holiday’s father, Clarence Halliday (Holiday, his stage name) was not part of Holidays childhood and did not marry nor live with her mother.<br />Growing up for Holiday wasn’t the easiest. With Holiday’s mother gone for the first ten years of her childhood, young Billie stayed with Sadie’s half-sister, Eva Miller. However, Holiday was mainly raised by Millers mother-in-law, Martha Miller.<br />With the absence of Holiday’s mother, Holiday suffered in school. Often skipping school, her truancy ended her up in a Juvenile court on January 2, 1925.<br />She was sent to the House of Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform school. <br />By age eleven, Billie Holiday had dropped out of school after being released from Good Shepherd.<br />When Holiday was eleven years old her mother returned, only to leave again when Billie was the age of thirteen. One year later when Holiday moved to Harlem, New York to be with her mother, Holiday and her mother ended up in prison for prostitution. <br />At the start of her career, Billie changed her name from Eleanora Fagan to Billie Holiday. Billie, from Holidays admired actress Billie Dove and Holiday (originally spelt Halliday) from her probable father who was a singer.<br />
“Those who wish to sing, always find a song.”<br />
The start of Holiday’s career…<br /> From 1929 to 1931 young Billie had teamed up with a tenor saxophone player, Kenneth Hollan. The two had become a musical team playing at small clubs like the Brooklyn Elks’ club. <br />By the end of 1932, when Billie was just seventeen years of age she replaced Monette Moore at a club called Monettes in New York. John Hammond first heard Holidays singing in early 1933 and arranged for Holiday to have her first record by the age of eighteen. Together with Benny Goodman(pictured left), Holiday composed her first record.<br />Songs included, “Son-In-Law” and “Riffin’ the Scotch” both of which became her hit singles selling over 5,300 copies. <br />Click here to listen to “Riffin’ the Scotch”<br />http://Click Me!<br />
<ul><li>After Holidays first record, the record label that Holiday was recording under were not appealed to her sound.
Her producers heavily tried to persuade Holiday to sound more like Cleo Brown, a popular woman jazz singer of the 1930s and 40s who was considered “established.”
After Billie Holidays recording of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” had done well, producers recognized Holiday as an individual.
One year after “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” was released, Holiday started to record under her own name.</li></ul>Please click to listen to “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” Click Me!<br />
<ul><li>Holiday was signed to Brunswick Records by John Hammond in 1935.
She began to record current pop tunes with Teddy Wilson, a swing pianist.
“Swing” became popular around 1935 and began to have a distinct sound.
Holiday and Wilson began to cover popular pedestrian tunes such as “Yankee Doodle Never Went To Town.” Click here to listen to it: Click Me!
Holidays recordings with Wilson are now an important part </li></ul>of the jazz vocal library.<br />Teddy Wilson<br />
Where “Lady Day” got her name<br /><ul><li>In the late 1930s Holiday formed a new accompanist, Lester Young, a tenor saxophonist.
Young was a boarder at Holidays mothers house in 1934.
“Lady Day” became Holidays recognizable stage name
Holiday gave Young his recognizable stage name, “The Prez.”
It is believed the reason behind the name “Lady Day” is because Young often tagged people as “lady” and “day” is short for Holidays last name.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>In the late 1930s Holiday sang as a big band vocalist with artists like Count Basie and Artie Shaw.
This later placed Holiday to be one of the first black women to work with a white orchestra, which was a very rare, and unusual event.</li></ul>(Count Basie)<br /><ul><li>By the late 1930s Holiday had toured with Basie and Shaw
Holiday became an established artist by singing radio and retail hits that she originally sang with Teddy Wilson
Click the link to listen to a song by Billie Holiday and Count Basie called “Swing Brother, Swing,” which has a very catchy beat: Click Me</li></ul>(Basie and Holiday)<br />
Finally Getting Somewhere…<br /><ul><li>By 1938 Holidays songs were becoming more popular throughout America.
“What A Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Easy Living” were now being imitated by singers and were becoming the standards of jazz.
Holidays single, “ImGonna Lock My Heart” released 1938, ranked the sixth most played song and the fourth best seller of September 1938.
“ImGonna Lock My Heart” is ranked as number two according to Joel Whitburn’s “Pop Memories: 1890-1954” book.
People were finally realizing Holidays true talents and seeing not only African Americans, but women as talented and successful individuals.
Please click here to listen to Holidays hit single, “ImGonna Lock My Heart” Click Me</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Holiday began recording for Columbia records in the late 1930s.
1939, Holiday was introduced to “Strange Fruit,” a song based poem by Lewis Allan, real name: Abel Meerepol.
Barney Josephson, propietor of Café Society, a nightclub, introduced the song to Holiday.
Holiday first performed “Strange Fruit” at Café Society.
When Holiday wanted to record and release “Strange Fruit” to the public Columbia records found the matter to sensitive.
Milt Gabler, an original producer from Brunswick records, agreed to record the song for his new label, Commodore Records.
“Strange Fruit” was recorded and released by Holiday on the 20th of April, 1939.
“Strange Fruit” was the equivalent of a top twenty hit in the 1930s</li></li></ul><li>Background Information on “Strange Fruit”<br /><ul><li>Made famous by Billie Holiday.
Was written more than sixty years ago.</li></ul>Lyrics<br />Southern trees bear a strange fruit,Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.<br />Pastoral scene of the gallant South,The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,And the sudden smell of burning flesh!<br />Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,Here is a strange and bitter crop.<br />Click here to listen to “Strange Fruit” performed by Billie Holiday: Click Me<br />
After Strange Fruit<br /><ul><li>After singing “Strange Fruit” Holidays popularity rose
Time Magazine mentioned Holiday in one of their articles
Holiday returned to Commodore Records in 1944 and recorded songs that Teddy Wilson and her sang in the 1930s.
Holiday recorded her own version of “Embraceable You” originally written by George and Ira Gershwin.
This cover was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005
Click to listen to Holidays cover of “Embraceable You.” Click Me</li></li></ul><li>“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”<br />
<ul><li>In the early 1940s Holidays mother, Sadie Fagan, nicknamed “The Duchess” opened her own restaurant called Mom Holiday’s.
Fagan was able to open the restaurant with Holidays hard earned money.
Holiday claimed that it kept her mother busy so she would not worry about her.
Holiday soon fell into hard times and needed money, so she went to her mothers restaurant to ask for some and her mother completely turned her down.
After arguing, Holiday shouted, “God bless the child that’s got his own!”
Holiday teamed up with Arthur Herzog Jr., a pianist and wrote a song called, “God Bless the Child.”
In the early 1940s, Holiday made $1,000 a week, but spent most of it on Opium and Heroin.</li></li></ul><li>Trouble in paradise <br /><ul><li>On the 16 of May 1947, Holiday was arrested for the possession of narcotics in her New York apartment.
On May 27, Holiday was in court it was named The United States of America versus Holiday.
Holiday pleaded guilty and was sentenced to Alderson Federal Prison Camp.
Holiday was released early due to good behavior on March 16, 1948. </li></li></ul><li>The Comeback<br /><ul><li>On the 27th of March, 1948 Holiday played at Carnegie Hall
Holiday sang thirty-two songs at the Carnegie concert
“Strange Fruit” was sang at the concert.</li></ul>Or not?<br /><ul><li>On January 22, 1949 Holiday was arrested in the San Francisco hotel that she was staying at
Holiday was charged with the possession of Opium, which she claims was her boyfriends at the time, Joe Guy.</li></li></ul><li>The fall of a <br /><ul><li>Due to the numerous drug charges and jail time, Holiday lost her cabaret license which allowed her to work in clubs that served alcohol.
When Holidays mother died in 1945 she began to heavily drink.
By the 1950s Holidays drug abuse, drinking, and abusive boyfriends started to harm her health.
Her voice suffered as well, it became coarse and weak
But from this, she became a more visual singer using stronger emotion when performing.
On the 28th of March, 1952, Holiday married Louis Mckay
Like most of the men that Holiday dated, Mckay was abusive
However, he did try to get her away from drugs and alcohol</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Despite Holidays personal issues, she still continued to tour and sing
She began recording with Norman Granz, an owner of small jazz labels.
In 1954 Holiday had a very successful tour of Europe
Holiday performed The Sound of Jazz on CBS with Ben Webster, Lester Young, and Coleman Hawkins
In 1956 Holiday released her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues.</li></ul>The book was co-written with William Duffy <br /><ul><li>Holiday was in bad condition when writing the book with Duffy
It is said that she didn’t read the book after it was complete</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>In 1958 Holiday recorded Lady in Satin with the Ray Ellis Orchestra for Columbia records
The album had a different sound that displayed Holidays voice, which was now more rough, raspy, and fragile.
Holiday gave her final performance in New York City on May 25, 1959</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Not long after Holidays last performance in New York she was admitted into the hospital for heart and liver issues.
She was so addicted to heroin at the time that she was arrested for possession of the narcotic while in the hospital on June 12, 1959.
Before Holiday passed away she was swindled out of her money and was left with $0.70 in the bank.</li></li></ul><li>Saying Goodbye to a Legend<br /><ul><li>Eleanor Fagan aka Billie Holiday died on July 17, 1959 at the Metropolitan Hospital in New York
Causes of death were cirrhosis of the liver and congestion of the lungs complicated by heart failure.
She was the young age of forty-four </li></li></ul><li><ul><li>More than 3000 people attended Holidays memorial services at the St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church.
In 2000 Holiday was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Diana Ross handled the honors</li></li></ul><li>Billie Holiday was born into a rough life. Through all the complications within her lifetime, she left a legacy with her unique and strong voice. She became the first black woman to sing in an all white orchestra and left her mark in the jazz industry. Holiday paved the way for many female artists. Holiday is considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time. She was not afraid to break the rules and broke the stereotype that women cannot be jazz singers. Holiday recorded under four record labels: Columbia, Brunswick, Commodore, and Decca. There were many positives and negatives in Holidays lifetime. She suffered tragedy and successes within her career. It is because of her that women are empowered and encouraged to “cross the line” and be who they are. Billie Holiday is an inspiration to women of all sorts and her legend continues on today.<br />