Audio Archive
3:24 pm
Mon February 2, 2009

Author Carole Boston Weatherford on Conversations with Jeff Duperon

Author Carole Boston Weatherford joins Jeff to discuss her new book, Becoming Billie Holiday, a fictional verse memoir. The world knew the famous jazz singer and songwriter (1915-1959) as Billie Holiday, but her name at birth was Eleanora Fagan. Neglected by her parents, abused by a neighbor, and sent to reform school, she scrubbed marble steps, drank bootleg liquor, smoked, worked in a brothel, and then found her voice--all before leaving Baltimore

She moved to New York City just as the Harlem Renaissance gave way to the Great Depression. Luckily, Eleanora had a gift--an incredible voice. She began her singing career as a teen and by age 25, Billie Holiday had not only fronted the era's hottest bands, but recorded her signature song "Strange Fruit." Poems by Weatherford trace the singer's journey from B-girl to jazz royalty. Cinematic, sepia-toned art by Floyd Cooper completes this memoir, Weatherford's young adult debut.