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 in a brothel,  and she scrubbed marble steps and 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. By early , Holiday had joined her mother in Harlem. Their landlady was a sharply-dressed woman named Florence Williams, who ran a brothel at West th Street.
After spending time in a workhouse , her mother was released in July, and Holiday was released in October. As a young teenager, Holiday started singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She took her professional pseudonym from Billie Dove , an actress she admired, and the musician Clarence Holiday, 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 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 Hammond , who 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 "Saddest Tale" in her scene. In , Holiday 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 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. Another frequent accompanist was tenor saxophonist Lester Young , who 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 Hammond said the Wilson-Holiday records from to were a great asset to Brunswick.
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 royalties, which saved the company money. Most records that made money sold around three to four thousand. In late , Holiday 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. Some of the songs Holiday performed with Basie were recorded. By February of that year, Holiday was no longer singing for Basie. Various reasons have been given for her firing. Jimmy Rushing , Basie's male vocalist, called her unprofessional. According to All Music Guide, Holiday 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, Kentucky, a 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 was nearing an end.
In November , Holiday was asked to use the service elevator at the Lincoln Hotel , instead of the passenger elevator, because white patrons of the hotels complained.
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 There are no surviving live recordings of Holiday with Shaw's 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, Vocalion, listed 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 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 Meeropol , a 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. Holiday said her father, Clarence Holiday, was denied medical treatment for a fatal lung disorder because of racial prejudice, and that singing "Strange Fruit" reminded her of the incident. When Holiday's producers at Columbia found the subject matter too sensitive, Milt Gabler agreed to record it for his Commodore Records label on April 20, 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. Holiday's 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". In September , Life magazine wrote, "She has the most distinct style of any popular vocalist and is imitated by other vocalists.
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 40s. 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.
Holiday asked Gabler for strings on the recording. 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 Camarata , said 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 August , when 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?
In , Holiday 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 McCarthyism , producer 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 attempts failed because in Biberman was listed as one of the Hollywood Ten and sent to jail. Several scenes were deleted from the film. And very damn little of me. This Is Jazz, Vol. Priceless Jazz: More Billie Holiday. Gold Collection [Retro]. Portrait of Billie Holiday. Masters [Cleopatra]. Thanks for the Memory [Music Club]. Best of Billie Holiday: Lover Man: Lady Sings the Blues [Collectables]. Billie's Love Songs.
Anthology No Regrets. The Original Authentic Recordings. Best of Classic Years in Digital Stereo. Instant Party: Let's Swing.
The Lady Sings [Proper]. Lover Man [Proper]. Strange Fruit [Proper]. Great Lady Day. Night and Day [Town Sound]. All of Me [Delta]. Lady Day Swings! Lady Sings the Blues [Past Perfect]. The Diva. Day In, Day Out. Happy Billie. God Bless the Child. Happy Holiday. The Platinum Collection. The Ultimate Collection. Jazz Lounge Remix. Legends: Billie Holiday. The Golden Era of Jazz, Vol. Very Best of Billie Holiday [Mastersong].
The One and Only Lady Day. This Is Buddha Lounge. Une Anthology The Definitive Collection [Verve]. Douglas on Blue Note. Icon: Love Songs. The Decca Singles Vol. Work From Home. Black Magic [Wisepack]. Body and Soul [International Music]. Designed like an album of 78s , the medium in which these recordings initially appeared, the These recordings were made in a time before the LP album , introduced by Columbia Records in Starting at approximately the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, recorded music arrived on the market in the form of a inch gramophone record that played at 78 revolutions per minute, two songs of generally no more than four minutes duration per side.
The advent of radio increased demand for recorded music played in the home through the s. However, during the Great Depression , home record sales decreased dramatically, but a relatively viable market still existed for the inexpensive play of records in jukeboxes , which had proliferated during the s and s.
Initially, these records featuring Billie Holiday were made with that market in mind. John Hammond, who had discovered Holiday singing in a Harlem jazz club in , arranged for her first recording session that same year on November A little more than 19 months later, Holiday would be in another New York studio for her second session in association with Goodman again, as well as Ben Webster and Cozy Cole , under the leadership of Teddy Wilson.
From July 2, , through August 7, , Holiday would regularly record, for commercial issue, 78s credited to herself or to Wilson. With a few exceptions, these records were originally released on labels other than Columbia which catered to an African American market, then referred to as race records.
The labels Brunswick Records and Vocalion Records became fellow companies to Columbia when it was purchased in by the American Record Corporation , which had owned Brunswick and Vocalion since late Records credited to Wilson were released on Brunswick; those to Holiday on Vocalion.
With the purchase of ARC in by CBS , the corporation re-organized its record labels under the aegis of Columbia as the parent company. Starting in , the Holiday releases were issued on the Okeh Records imprint, reactivated by CBS to handle its product for the "race record" market.
Discs one through six, and disc seven tracks one through fourteen present the master takes in chronological recorded order. The remainder of disc seven, and discs eight through ten, present the alternate takes and other items, also in chronological recorded order. The first, track 15 of disc seven " Saddest Tale " with the Duke Ellington Orchestra , was taken from the soundtrack to the movie short Symphony in Black by Paramount Pictures in Disc eight, tracks three through five, contain airchecks with the Count Basie Orchestra from , the only documentation of Holiday's year-long tenure as Basie's band singer.
Disc nine, tracks seven and eight, feature recordings broadcast on the Camel Caravan radio variety program of January 17, ; with backing by the Benny Goodman Orchestra , Billie sings alongside Johnny Mercer , Martha Tilton , and Leo Watson on the second song, Mercer's " Jeepers Creepers ". The final two tracks of the set, numbers 22 and 23 of disc ten, are from the Esquire Award Winners Concert at the Metropolitan Opera , broadcast and recorded on V-Discs for distribution to servicemen fighting overseas during World War II.
Holiday had won top female jazz vocalist for , and became the first African-American woman to sing at the Met. This recording took place more than two years after the final studio session in , and during the Petrillo recording ban ; the AFM waived the strike terms for the recording of V-discs.
Known producers for the original recordings are John Hammond and Bernie Hanighen. In terms of a collected body of work combining both influence and quality of achievement, these recordings are some of the most important in jazz history.
The sessions coincide with the rise of the swing era on its way to becoming the popular music of the United States during the late Depression and war years. Of special note are the records cut with members of the Basie band, Holiday herself hired by Basie in , including his fabulous rhythm section of Freddie Green , Walter Page , and Jo Jones , along with key soloists Buck Clayton and Holiday's musical soul-mate, Lester Young. The roster of Holiday and Wilson sidemen reads like a who's who of jazz soloists from the s, many of whom would be of great influence to later styles of bebop, cool jazz , third stream , virtually every aspect of jazz through the s.
Like Armstrong's Hot Five aggregations and The Beatles after , the various bands assembled were purely creatures of the studio, although some sessions featured principally members of Basie's touring band, accustomed to playing together regularly on the road.
The sessions acted as a workshop, allowing musicians who usually did not intermix professionally outside of cutting contests to exchange ideas. As has been remarked upon by numerous critics and jazz scholars, the special appeal of Holiday in this setting derived from her fitting in with the other musicians as a musician, taking her solo with the rest of them. General practice of the day dictated that the song be paramount, musicians subservient to the band arrangement or the singing star.
Producers Hammond and Hanighen, both aligned more to the artistic than the business of end of jazz, encouraged the musicians rather to play as they wished. The results over six years offered a textbook in swing jazz played by small groups in a relaxed yet committed fashion. As a singer, Holiday had influence on defining the style of a big band vocalist after that of Bing Crosby and her role model, Louis Armstrong.
Her manipulation of rhythm and length of musical phrases, allied to her ability to find emotional resonance in songs, was acknowledged publicly as a template by singers from her own era, Sinatra, Lee, Bennett, and others, and by myriad singers in later eras.
As stated by Gary Giddins in the liner notes to the box set:. That Legacy would lavish such an expensive box for recordings originally designed for the inexpensive medium of jukebox play from six to seven decades previously stands as testament to the staying power of this body of work. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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Alberta Nichols and Mann Holiner. Riffin' the Scotch. Dorothy Parker and Ralph Rainger. What a Little Moonlight Can Do. Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain. I'm Painting the Town Red. It's Too Hot for Words. Twenty-Four Hours a Day. Arthur Swanstrom and James Hanley. Yankee Doodle Never Went to Town. Ralph Freed and Bernie Hanighen.
Eeny Meeny Meiny Mo. Johnny Mercer and Matty Malneck. If You Were Mine. These 'n' That 'n' Those. Milton Pascal and Edward Fairchild. You Let Me Down. Al Dubin and Harry Warren. Log in to add a tag. More Billie Holiday Lyrics. SongMeanings is a place for discussion and discovery. User does not exist. Incorrect Password. Remember Me.In , the club moved to the Bradford Hotel on Tremont St. for one year. Billie Holiday s Storyville broadcasts present her in three phases of her last decade, which coincide with the aforementioned three different locations of the club: , and /5(5).