The very best Billie Holiday, in honor of her 100th birthday
Were Billie Holiday alive today, it would be her 100th birthday.
The 20th century fostered some unbelievably amazing voices who contributed to the progression of musical diversity in America, and it’s undeniable that one of those voices was Billie Holiday’s. While Cher Horowitz might not be familiar with the repertoire of Lady Day, anyone who calls themselves a fan of jazz will list Billie as one of the vocalists who defined the genre. She was known for her telltale raspy singing voice, and her unique ability to improvise musically.
Born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Billie died a tragic and overlooked death. After huge success in the 1930s, she downward spiraled and died in a New York hospital in 1959 after being arrested on drug charges. A posthumous renaissance of her music began in the 1960s and in 1972 Diana Ross brought her work to mainstream attention again in the film Lady Sings the Blues. In 2000, Billie Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As NPR so astutely noted, “In a way, she died before her time, just as the country was beginning to talk about race, drugs, feminism and misogyny — all of which converged in her life.” It is no wonder that her songs and voice are so adored today.
On the anniversary of this iconic woman’s birth, we look back on some of her most famous songs. These have stood the test of time, and will endure for all time. Happy birthday, Lady Day. You were one in a million.
“Strange Fruit” (1939)
“I’m A Fool To Want You” (1958)
“God Bless The Child” (1941)
“Lady Sings the Blues” (1956)
“I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” (1937)
“Come Rain Or Come Shine” (1955)
Share your favorite Billie Holiday songs with us, in the comments.
[Featured image via.]