Billie Holiday

~ Person

Legal name: Eleanora Fagan


Eleanora Fagan (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), professionally known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz musician and singer-songwriter with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Holiday was known for her vocal delivery and improvisation skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education.

After a turbulent childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs around Harlem. After being heard by producer John Hammond, who commended her voice, Holiday was signed to Brunswick Records in 1935. Collaborations with Teddy Wilson yielded the hit "What a Little Moonlight Can Do", which would later become a jazz standard. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Holiday booked mainstream success with labels such as Columbia Records and Decca Records. By the late 1940s, however, Holiday was beset with legal troubles and drug abuse. After a short prison sentence, Holiday performed a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. However, due to her drug and alcohol problems, her reputation deteriorated.

Though she was a successful concert performer throughout the 1950s with two further sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall, Holiday's bad health, coupled with a string of abusive relationships and ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, caused her voice to wither. Her final recordings were met with mixed reaction to her damaged voice, but were mild commercial successes. Her final album, Lady in Satin, was released in 1958. Holiday died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1959. A posthumous album, Last Recordings, was released following her death.

Much of Holiday's material has been rereleased since her death, and she is considered a legendary performer with an ongoing influence on American music. Holiday is the recipient of four Grammy awards, all of them posthumous awards for Best Historical Album. Furthermore, Holiday herself was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973. Lady Sings the Blues, a film centered on Holiday's life, starring Diana Ross, was released in 1972.

  1. ^ Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth review – a celebration of a true original. By Neil Spencer. Guardian. May 3, 2015.
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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1951 Lover Man Billie Holiday 3
1952 Solitude Billie Holiday 2
1952 Billie Holiday Sings Billie Holiday 1
1953 An Evening With Billie Holiday Billie Holiday 1
1954 Jazz at the Philharmonic Billie Holiday 2
1956 Lady Sings the Blues Billie Holiday 5
1956 Velvet Mood Billie Holiday 1
1957 Body and Soul Billie Holiday 4 3
1957 Songs for Distingué Lovers Billie Holiday 2
1958 Lady in Satin Billie Holiday 16
1959 Stay With Me Billie Holiday 2
1962 Ladylove Billie Holiday 2
1967 In Concert Ella Fitzgerald & Billie Holiday 1
1968 Billie Holiday's Greatest Hits Billie Holiday 1
1989 Strange Fruit Billie Holiday 2
1990 The Complete 1951 Storyville Club Sessions Billie Holiday 1
1992 Ballads Billie Holiday 1
1993 Jumpin' for Joy Teddy Wilson feat. Billie Holiday 1
1994 God Bless the Child Billie Holiday 1
1995 If You Were Mine Billie Holiday 1
1995 Lady Sings the Blues Billie Holiday 1
1995 Lady Sings the Blues: The Billie Holiday Story, Volume 4 Billie Holiday 1
1995 Feel The Blues Billie Holiday 1
1995 Always Billie Holiday 1
1995 Lady Sings the Blues: Original Sessions 1937-1947 Billie Holiday 1
1995 Love Me or Leave Me Billie Holiday 1
1996 God Bless the Child Billie Holiday 1
1997 Billie Holiday Billie Holiday 1
2004 Strange Fruit Billie Holiday 1
2005 Summertime - The Best of Billie Holiday Billie Holiday 1
2006 Lady Sings the Blues Billie Holiday 1
2007 Billy's Blues Billie Holiday 1
2007 The Essential Billie Holiday Billie Holiday 1
2010 Lady in Satin (two album release: Lady in Satin / Last Recording) Billie Holiday 1
2011 Icon Billie Holiday 1
2013 Eight Classic Albums Billie Holiday 1
2015 Lady In Satin (The Centennial Edition) Billie Holiday With Ray Ellis and His Orchestra 1
"Fine and Mellow" Billie Holiday 1
A Little Moonlight Billie Holiday 1
Billie's Blues Billie Holiday 1
Billie's Love Songs Billie Holiday 1
Don't Explain Billie Holiday 1
Eresco Jazz Session Billie Holiday 1
I Wish I Had You Billie Holiday 1
Last Recording Billie Holiday 1
Stormy Weather Billie Holiday 1
Summertime - The Best of Billie Holiday Billie Holiday 1
The Essential Collection Billie Holiday 1
Time on My Hands Billie Holiday 1
Vintage Vaults Volume 3 Billie Holiday 1

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