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She was the first black woman to work with a white orchestra when she paired with clarinetist, composer and bandleader Artie Shaw in She would go on to receive similar awards in the following years. Much to her satisfaction, she appeared with her idol Louis Armstrong in the film New Orleans in She was sentenced to a year and a day of prison time and went to a federal rehabilitation facility in West Virginia.

Because of her prison term, Holiday was not able to get a license to play in cabarets and clubs. However, she managed to play in New York's Club Ebony with the help of the owner, John Levy, who would become her boyfriend and manager.

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When she first performed at Carnegie Hall in , Holiday received three curtain calls before a sold-out crowd. After her release from prison in , the singer appeared in a Broadway musical, Holiday on Broadway. Music historian Michael Brooks, who produced the compilation Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection, an anthology of recordings from , says of Holiday: "She was hard-nosed, there's no doubt about it. She didn't care who she fought with or how it affected her career. Holiday described her approach to performing, "I don't think I ever sing the same way twice.

The blues is sort of a mixed-up thing. You just have to feel it. Anything I do sing is part of my life.

Billie Holiday: Her Life & Times - John White - Google книги

Shelves: nonfiction. Jul 19, Sam Motes rated it it was amazing. What a tragic tell of the train wreck life of a gifted entertainer slowly destroying herself with drugs and men that use and abuse her as she struggles with the oppression of being a black woman in a society that counts that against you. Truly a life soaked in the troubles that gave voice to the blues and an emotional jazz that digs deep into the heart.

May 16, Brad Hodges rated it liked it. Billie Holiday was born in poverty and obscurity years ago, but would become one of the great artists of the century.

As Donald Clarke writes in his comprehensive if idiosyncratic biography, Wishing on the Moon: The Life and Times of Billie Holiday: "Billie was the first singer who was herself a great jazz musician, as opposed to a musician who also sang. She was singing some of the newer American popular songs the way deserved to be interpreted, and she was discovered just as the Swing Era Billie Holiday was born in poverty and obscurity years ago, but would become one of the great artists of the century.

She was singing some of the newer American popular songs the way deserved to be interpreted, and she was discovered just as the Swing Era was coming together. She had bad relationships with men: "She had continued her pattern of choosing a man each time who was worse than the last one. She was born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, but grew up in Baltimore.

Billie Holiday - Billie Holiday Story

She was born to teenage and unmarried parents. Her father, Clarence, had the name Holiday, which she took when she broke into show business. But before that she had a spotty childhood, being raped and spending time in a Catholic home for girls and most likely prostituting herself. After moving to Harlem with her mother, she got jobs singing in nightclubs, and then started recording in One musician said of her: "One thing attracted me to Billie so much was that she never sang on the beat with the music, she always slurred behind the music, the music was ahead of her at all times, but she sang behind the music.

In , she introduced a new song into her act: Southern trees bear strange fruit Blood on the leaves and blood at the root Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees Pastoral scene of the gallant south The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh Then the sudden smell of burning flesh Here is fruit for the crows to pluck For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop Here is a strange and bitter crop It was "Strange Fruit" a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which protested lynching of African Americans.

Clarke reports on listeners being devastated, completely silent, the first time they heard her sing it. She would close her show for years with it. Eventually the Swing Era and declined, and Holiday became famous for other reasons: "Now Lady was a famous junkie, and she knew that people who came ostensibly to hear her sing were coming, some of them, just to gawp. Yet it was a role she chose willingly.

She died in at the age of Clarke's book is a soup to nuts biography, just what I was looking for. He covers all bases: not only her life, but a pretty good explanation of the music to a layman like me. At times the details of recordings can be overwhelming, including the song titles and the musicians who played on them, but it's valuable to the right person. He is also unstinting about her personal life. She was married three times, as mentioned to men who weren't much good for her, including her last, Louis McKay, who stole most of her money.

But she was generous and funny and swore profusely , loved children, though never had any of her own, and was both cordial and bitter to rivals she loved Lena Horne, but didn't have much nice to say about Dinah Washington. She also had quite the sex life, which Clarke chronicles without being too nosy. It's fairly accepted that she had relationships with women, including actress Tallulah Bankhead, and she talked frankly about her sexual desires in a time when that just wasn't done.

Clarke writes: "Billie tried, and mostly failed, to find love through sex. She had no conventional hangups, but she also had no childhood to speak of, either; she gave love freely, but could not accept it. Her vulnerability was there, everyone knew, but so deep that no one could reach it, for she was afraid to reveal it. As the years went by, she began to make terrible, destructive relationships, each man apparently worse than the last.

He also doesn't hide his personal feelings, and inserts himself into the book, which takes away from it. At one point he refers to rock music as "hack work," well, the love of jazz and rock are not mutually exclusive, Donald. But I felt as I knew the woman after reading the book.

Watch her smile and nod her head as he plays.


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Young died only a few months before she did. Dec 15, Kirsten lush. First of all, Lady Day was one hot mess. Going in, I knew her life had been tumultuous but I had no idea how deep it all went. I love reading about people who come up from nothing and dazzle the world, but this isn't really a story like that. I didn't expect it to be tidy, I just hoped for some clear sense of her trajectory. She came up from nothing and definitely did what she had to survive, but it seemed like such a joyless existence. And you get that from her music certainly, the pain - and t First of all, Lady Day was one hot mess.

And you get that from her music certainly, the pain - and that's what resonates, I just couldn't help but feel empty for her and it hurt. Maybe that's fitting. I'm not judging her life choices, again I think she just survived most of the time and took whatever pleasure she could out of a pretty frustrating life, but even what she achieved seemed almost accidental and haphazard - and she didn't seem to feel any sense of achievement from it. Possibly because in her lifetime she didn't quite take off in popularity like other artists she knew and possibly because she lived in a barely-conscious haze.

I felt like it was a cautionary tale against heroin use with some additional salacious details spread throughout. I hoped to gain more insight about Billie Holiday as a human - her motives, thoughts and feelings, but I gather that level of detail is hard to assess barring the future discovery of her secret diary which I don't expect.

Billie Holiday, Her Life and Times

For me she remains enigmatic and I sense that would be her preference since I'm a stranger. This is probably a fascinating bio for more serious students of jazz than I. It was, primarily, a chronological list of studio sessions with a thorough accounting of each participant every single one and the inclusion of which songs were recorded at which session was interesting, especially when placed within the context of her personal life.

However, the bare bone details of her life and the reminiscences of acquaintances were not always chronological or very clear. As a plus, you get first hand accounts from people who knew her well, but most of those quotes were inscrutable and meandering.

What reduced the rating for me, the detail in these accounts and the recording session minutiae, are probably what the author felt was missing from previous biographies and is probably what more serious students of her work value the most. I enjoyed the early history of Baltimore in the earlier chapters. It put some context around some of the tensions that still plague the city.

And I did get a sense of where BH came from, how her career unfolded and some idea why she wasn't more commercially successful in her lifetime.

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I still think she's a musical genius and absolute goddess, but she remains a mystery to me as a person. I feel a little guilty enjoying her music so much now, like I'm enjoying her suffering in a sense because of it. And maybe that's the core of her genius, the way she could express universal suffering through her phrasing, the way it's all tossed off almost like an afterthought and the depth of feeling she almost casually conveys through her unconventional voice.

God bless the child. She was a free soul. The only thing I regret, and any musician who knew her regretted, was that she got hung up on shit. We lost her because whoever was her man at the time could control her with the drugs. Jul 26, Deodand rated it it was amazing Shelves: europe , favorites , non-fiction , usa , biography-memoir.

This book starts out a bit on the dry side - but just keep going.

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You will feel yourself disappear into Lady Day's shoes. This book is amazingly complete, as it builds on the work of another historian who captured oral histories from many people - often just in time. There were many things I didn't know or that didn't occur to me about her life: She was raised by someone as damaged as herself, had no father, no education and no advantages. Her life was also extremely violent and she lived in cont This book starts out a bit on the dry side - but just keep going.

Her life was also extremely violent and she lived in continuous poverty, thanks to a revolving door of swindlers coming and going. How she even made it as far as she did is a miracle. She existed as pure will for a long time. She was also seriouly mentally ill at a time in our history when such a thing didn't matter, especially about a black person.

I enjoyed reading this book with my iPod by my side so I could listen to many of the songs Clarke mentions - most of which are available for free on Youtube. One of the problems I have with biography is that I want to know the real story. With a character like Billie Holiday, though, there is no "real" story, just several different people's version of the story.

With that in mind, Clarke does an excellent job exhausting every conceivable source for information on the life of Lady Day. Especially helpful are a series of interviews done in the s with numerous people who were important in her life. Clarke also exposes the inaccuracies and biases of One of the problems I have with biography is that I want to know the real story. Clarke also exposes the inaccuracies and biases of other Holiday biographies, including Lady's own effort Lady Sings the Blues which made have had the right spirit, but really just showed off Lady's penchant for embellishing her own history to fit her needs.

While it can be a little exhausting hearing several different versions of the same episode, in the end it feels good knowing that while no one will have a complete picture of Lady's life you've heard as complete a version as exists. A must-read for any serious Billie Holiday fan, but for the more casual fans this is just too long. Dec 16, Jeanne rated it really liked it. Having loved Billie Holiday's vocals for so many decades, I was curious to know something about her life outside of the largely fictionalized by Lady "Lady Sings the Blues.

Lady was very much the product of her own making in her penchant for knowingly choosing crummy men, each worse Having loved Billie Holiday's vocals for so many decades, I was curious to know something about her life outside of the largely fictionalized by Lady "Lady Sings the Blues. Lady was very much the product of her own making in her penchant for knowingly choosing crummy men, each worse than the one before.

Few of her relationships were without tumult, starting with her mother and continuing through every marriage and with every lover. Listening to Lady now will be even more of a look into her open soul. That simple, central fact has eluded a good many of those who have written about her. She herself helped foster their confusion. Not long before she died in , raddled by heroin and alcohol and desperate for money, she agreed to tell her story to William Dufty, a friend who evidently believed double-checking any of her tales would be seen by her as an act of betrayal.

Later it would serve as the basis for an overwrought Hollywood film starring Diana Ross that further muddied the waters. The unadorned facts of her life were chilling enough. Born in Philadelphia in but brought up in Baltimore, the illegitimate daughter of an illegitimate mother, she yearned all her girlhood for her mostly absent father, Clarence Holiday, a big-band banjo player and guitarist whose flashy example helped lure her into the music business but whose hustling ways would be mirrored in many of the predatory men she later called Daddy.

Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith were her favorites and with Ethel Waters became the sources of her style. She moved to New York at thirteen, worked for a time in another bordello, then began singing at house parties and small Harlem clubs, where the record producer John Hammond first heard her in and signed her up for Columbia Records. What the hell? And as her popularity reached its peak about , she also began daily injections of the narcotic that eventually consumed her life and helped cut short her career.

Long before her death, Holiday like her sisters in misery, Judy Garland and Edith Piaf had begun to attract a following more interested in her troubles than in her music.