Sadie had opened a restaurant, the East Side Grill, and mother and daughter worked long hours there. She dropped out of school at age On December 24,Sadie came home to discover a neighbor, Wilbur Rich, attempting to rape Eleanora.
She successfully fought back, and Rich was arrested. Officials placed Eleanora in the House of the Good Shepherd under protective custody as a state witness in the rape case. She found a job running errands LP) a brothel and she scrubbed marble steps as well as kitchen and bathroom floors of neighborhood homes. In particular, Holiday cited " West End Blues " as an intriguing influence, pointing specifically to the scat section duet with the clarinet as her favorite part.
As a young teenager, Holiday started singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She took her professional pseudonym from Billie Dovean actress she admired, and Clarence Halliday, her probable father. The young singer teamed up with a neighbor, tenor saxophone player Kenneth Hollan.
As her reputation grew, she played in many clubs, including the Mexico's and the Alhambra Bar and Grill, where she met Charles Linton, a vocalist who later worked with Chick Webb. It was also during this period that she connected with her father, who was playing in Fletcher Henderson 's band.
Producer John Hammondwho loved Moore's singing and had come to hear her, first heard Holiday there in early Hammond was impressed by Holiday's singing style and said of her, "Her singing almost changed my music tastes and my musical life, because she was the first girl singer I'd come across who actually sang like an improvising jazz genius.
She sang LP) Tale" in her scene. InHoliday was signed to Brunswick by John Hammond to record pop tunes with pianist Teddy Wilson in the swing style for the growing jukebox trade.
They were allowed to improvise on the material. Holiday's improvisation of melody to fit the emotion was revolutionary. However, after "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" was successful, the company began considering Holiday an artist in her own right.
According to Hammond, Brunswick was broke and unable to record many jazz tunes. Wilson, Holiday, Young, and other musicians came into the studio without written arrangements, reducing the recording cost.
Brunswick paid Holiday a flat fee rather than royaltieswhich saved the company money. Most records that made money sold around three to four thousand. Another frequent accompanist was tenor saxophonist Lester Youngwho had been a boarder at her mother's house in and with whom Holiday had a rapport. Young said, "I think you can hear that on some of the old records, you know. Some time I'd sit down and listen to 'em myself, and it sound like two of the same voices In lateHoliday had a brief stint as a big-band vocalist with Count Basie.
Holiday chose the songs she sang and had a hand in the arrangements, choosing to portray her developing persona of a woman unlucky in love. Basie became used to Holiday's heavy involvement in the band.
He said, "When she rehearsed with the band, it was really just a matter of getting her tunes like she wanted them, because she knew how she wanted to sound and you couldn't tell her what to do. Holiday found herself in direct competition with the popular singer Ella Fitzgerald.
The two later became friends. Webb and Fitzgerald were declared winners by Metronome magazine, while DownBeat magazine pronounced Holiday and Basie the winners. Fitzgerald won a straw poll of the audience by a three-to-one margin. By FebruaryHoliday was no longer singing for Basie. Various reasons have been given for why she was fired.
Jimmy RushingBasie's male vocalist, called her unprofessional. According to All Music GuideHoliday was fired for being "temperamental and unreliable". She complained of low pay and poor working conditions and may have refused to sing the songs requested of her or change her style.
This association placed her among the first black women to work with a white orchestra, an unusual arrangement at that time. This was also the first time a black female singer employed full-time toured the segregated U.
South with a white bandleader. In situations where there was a lot of racial tension, Shaw was known to stick up for his vocalist. In her autobiography, Holiday describes an incident in which she was not permitted to sit on the bandstand with other vocalists because she was black. In Louisville, Kentuckya man called her a "nigger wench" and requested she sing another song.
Holiday lost her temper and had to be escorted off the stage. Because of their success, they were given an extra time slot to broadcast in April, which increased their exposure. The New York Amsterdam News reviewed the broadcasts and reported an improvement in Holiday's performance. Metronome reported that the addition of Holiday to Shaw's band put it in the "top brackets".
Holiday could not sing as often during Shaw's shows as she could in Basie's; the repertoire was more instrumental, with fewer vocals. Shaw was also pressured to hire a white singer, Nita Bradley, with whom Holiday did not get along but had to share a bandstand. Although Shaw admired Holiday's singing in his band, saying she had a "remarkable ear" and a "remarkable sense of time", her tenure with the band I Cover The Waterfront - Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit (Vinyl nearing an end. This may have been the last straw for her.
She left the band shortly after. Holiday spoke about the incident weeks later, saying, "I was never allowed to visit the bar or the dining room as did other members of the band Because she was under contract to a different record label and possibly because of her race, Holiday was able to make only one record with Shaw, "Any Old Time".
By the late s, Holiday had toured with Count Basie and Artie Shaw, scored a string of radio and retail hits with Teddy Wilson, and became an established artist in the recording industry. Her record label, Vocalionlisted the single as its fourth-best seller for the same month, and it peaked at number 2 on the pop charts, according to Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories: — Holiday was in the middle of recording for Columbia in the late s when she was introduced to " Strange Fruit ", a song based on a poem about lynching written by Abel Meeropola Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx.
Meeropol used the pseudonym "Lewis Allan" for the poem, which was set to music and performed at teachers' union meetings.
She performed it at the club in with some trepidation, fearing possible retaliation. She later said that the imagery of the song reminded her of her father's death and that this played a role in her resistance to performing it. During the song's long introduction, the lights dimmed and all movement had to cease. As Holiday began singing, only a small spotlight illuminated her face.
On the final note, all lights went out, and when they came back on, Holiday was gone. She recorded it again for Verve. The Commodore release did not get any airplay, but the controversial song sold well, though Gabler attributed that mostly to the record's other side, " Fine and Mellow ", which was a jukebox hit.
LP) popularity increased after "Strange Fruit". She received a mention in Time magazine. I needed the prestige and publicity all right, but you can't pay rent with it. She also recorded her version of " Embraceable You ", which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in She used money from her daughter while playing dice with members of the Count Basie band, with whom she toured in the late s.
Fagan began borrowing large amounts from Holiday to support the restaurant. Holiday obliged but soon fell on hard times herself. Mom turned me down flat. She wouldn't give me a cent. With Arthur Herzog, Jr. It reached number 25 on the charts in and was third in Billboard ' s songs of the year, selling over a million records. He said she came up with the line "God bless the child" from a dinner conversation the two had had.
Because she was under contract to Columbia, she used the pseudonym "Lady Day". He signed Holiday to Decca on August 7,when she was The success and distribution of the song made Holiday a staple in the pop community, leading to solo concerts, rare for jazz singers in the late s. Gabler said, "I made Billie a real pop singer. That was right in her. Billie loved those songs. The record's flip side was " No More ", one of her favorites. Such arrangements were associated with Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
I begged Milt and told him I had to have strings behind me. The musical director, Toots Camaratasaid Holiday was overwhelmed with joy. Her s recordings with Wilson used a small jazz combo; recordings for Decca often involved strings. She wrote "Don't Explain" after she caught her husband, Jimmy Monroe, with lipstick on his collar. Holiday did not make any more records until Augustwhen she recorded "Don't Explain" for a second time, changing the lyrics "I know you raise Cain" to "Just say you'll remain" and changing "You mixed with some dame" to "What is there to gain?
InHoliday recorded " Good Morning Heartache ". Although the song failed to chart, she sang it in live performances; three live recordings are known. Plagued by racism and McCarthyismproducer Jules Levey and script writer Herbert Biberman were pressed to lessen Holiday's and Armstrong's roles to avoid the impression that black people created jazz. The I Cover The Waterfront - Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit (Vinyl failed because in Biberman was listed as one of the Hollywood Ten and sent to jail.
And very damn little of me. I know I wore a white dress for a number I did Holiday's drug addictions were a problem on the set. She earned more than one thousand dollars per week from club ventures but spent most of it on heroin. Her lover, Joe Guytraveled to Hollywood while Holiday was filming and supplied her with drugs.
Guy was banned from the set when he was found there by Holiday's manager, Joe Glaser. By the late s, Holiday had begun recording a number of slow, sentimental ballads. Metronome expressed its concerns in about "Good Morning Heartache", saying, "there's a danger that Billie's present formula will wear thin, but up to now it's wearing well. InHoliday won the Metronome magazine popularity poll. On May 16,Holiday was arrested for possession of narcotics in her New York apartment.
On May 27 she was in court. And that's just the way it felt", she recalled. Dehydrated and unable to hold down food, she pleaded guilty and asked to be sent to the hospital. The district attorney spoke in her defense, saying, "If your honor please, this is a case of a drug addict, but more serious, however, than most of our cases, Miss Holiday is a professional entertainer and among the higher rank as far as income was concerned.
The drug possession conviction caused her to lose her New York City Cabaret Cardpreventing her working anywhere that sold alcohol; thereafter, she performed in concert venues and theaters.
Holiday was released early on March 16, because of good behavior. When she arrived at Newarkher pianist Bobby Tucker and her dog Mister were waiting. The dog leaped at Holiday, knocking off her hat, and tackling her to the ground.
A woman thought the dog was attacking Holiday. She screamed, a crowd gathered, and reporters arrived. Holiday hesitated, unsure audiences would accept her after the arrest. She gave in and agreed to appear. On March 27,Holiday played Carnegie Hall to a sold-out crowd.
Her popularity was unusual because she didn't have a current hit record. Holiday sang 32 songs at the Carnegie concert by her count, including Cole Porter 's " Night and Day " and her s hit, "Strange Fruit". During the show, someone sent her a box of gardenias. After the third curtain call, she passed out. Titled Holiday on Broadwayit sold out.
But it closed after three weeks. She married trombonist Jimmy Monroe on August 25, While still married, she became involved with trumpeter Joe Guy, her drug dealer. She divorced Monroe in and also split with Guy. Gabler said the hit was her most successful recording for Decca after "Lover Man". The charts of the s did not list songs outside the top 30, making it impossible to LP) minor hits. By the late s, despite her popularity and concert power, her singles were little played on radio, perhaps because of her reputation.
The loss of her cabaret card 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.
But nothing happened. I was a huge success. By the s, Holiday's drug use, 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. 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. Holiday recorded extensively for six labels: Columbia Records 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 its earlier imprint Clef Recordsfrom through ; again for Columbia Records from to and MGM Records in Many of Holiday's recordings were released on rpm recordsbefore the advent of long-playing vinyl recordsand only Clef, Verve, and Columbia issued Holiday albums during her lifetime that were not compilations of previously released material.
Many compilations have been issued since her death, including comprehensive box sets and live recordings. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Discography of American jazz singer Billie Holiday. Photo from Down Beat magazine, c. February Then she took a drug cure, and the skeptics shook their heads sadly, saying that Billie was through.
That same year, Billie returned for what appears to have been a one-night stand at the long-since-demolished Riverview Ballroom, which stood on the northwest corner of Cambridge and North, now the site of a UW-Milwaukee dormitory. You can read an in-depth story about the Bahn Frei — which still stands today at 11th and North — here. Again, details are fuzzy, but it appears that Holiday opened on Aug.
In a familiar refrain, the press paid little attention again, with but a single, short mention. Following on the heels of a one-night stand by the piece orchestra of her early collaborator Count Basie, Billie took up residence at the fabled Brass Rail on 3rd and Wells, performing with pianist Mal Waldron. Local singer Tommy Sheridan and his trio opened for the six-day stint beginning on July 29, and it seems from one source that there were multiple shows, at least on some, if not all, nights.
X Fortunately, we have two records of this Milwaukee swan song. She needed only a couple of numbers to convince the audience that she still had the blues touch. She still has her own. Ellison of gossamer and husky tones is one of her geniuses. Her diction, from an academic point of view, is inexcusably sloppy, but to her fans it amounts to a new semantic dimension, imparting more subtle and varied meanings to familiar words.
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