Eleanora Fagan, 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 influence on jazz music. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and she was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education. There were other singers with equal talent, but Holiday had a voice that captured the attention of her audience. After a turbulent childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem, where she was heard by the producer John Hammond and she signed a recording contract with Brunswick Records in 1935. Collaborations with Teddy Wilson yielded the hit What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Holiday had mainstream success on labels such as Columbia Records and Decca Records. By the late 1940s, however, she was beset with legal troubles, after a short prison sentence, she performed a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, but her reputation deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems. Her final recordings were met with mixed reaction to her 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 Recording, was released following her death, much of Holidays material has been rereleased since her death. She is considered a performer with an ongoing influence on American music. She is the recipient of four Grammy awards, all of them posthumous awards for Best Historical Album, Holiday herself was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973. Lady Sings the Blues, a film about her life, starring Diana Ross, was released in 1972, Eleanora Fagan was born on April 7,1915, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Sarah Julia Sadie Fagan and Clarence Holiday, an unmarried teenaged couple. Her father did not live with her mother, not long after Eleanora was born, Clarence abandoned his family to pursue a career as a jazz banjo player and guitarist. Sarah moved to Philadelphia at age 19, after she was evicted from her parents home in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, for becoming pregnant. With no support from her parents, she made arrangements with her older, married half-sister, Eva Miller, the child was of African-American ancestry and was also said to have had Irish ancestors through her mothers mixed heritage. Her mother often took what were known as transportation jobs. Holidays autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, first published in 1956, is sketchy on details of her early life, some historians have disputed Holidays paternity, as a copy of her birth certificate in the Baltimore archives lists the father as a man named Frank DeViese
Image: Billie Holiday 0001 original
Holiday aged 2 in 1917
"Portrait of Billie Holiday and Mister, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947".
Holiday at the Club Bali, Washington, with Al Dunn (drums), and Bobby Tucker (piano)