Billie Holiday possessed one of the most distinctive singing voices in jazz, and was always stretching the boundaries, and improvising within the vocal line. In a life cut short by drugs and alcohol, "Lady Day" mesmerized audiences with her interpretations of standards such as “God Bless the Child.” But her version of the anti-lynching cri de coeur “Strange Fruit” became the “Marseillaise” of the Civil Rights Movement.
You voted Billie Holiday your No. 7 Most Essential Jazz Artist.
- Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia.
- Her friend, the “Prez,” tenor saxophonist Lester Young, gave her the nickname of “Lady Day.”
- “Strange Fruit” became her biggest-selling single.
- Her version of it was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
- Holiday herself was inducted into that Hall of Fame, and she won four GRAMMYs, all of them posthumous.
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