Billie Holiday

WRTI Arts Desk
12:58 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Flowers, Fur, and Turtlenecks: The Fashion Statements of Jazz

Duke Ellington and his band wear wool overcoats and tailored dress to signify celebrity status, Los Angeles, 1934.
Bettmann/CORBIS

In the 1940s, when jazz singer Billie Holiday was at the height of her power and artistry, she always performed wearing at least one white gardenia in her hair. WRTI's Meridee Duddleston visits Drexel University professor and fashion scholar Alphonso McClendon, who looks at the meaning behind that statement and fashion in his book Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation. 

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
1:48 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

Billie Holiday: A Singer Beyond Our Understanding

Billie Holiday has become a mythic presence in absentia.
William Gottlieb Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 7:54 pm

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Latest from ICON Magazine
2:00 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

The Centennial Collection of Billie Holiday

Is Billie Holiday the ultimate jazz singer? You might think so, listening to this commemorative anthology that draws from Lady Day’s early period. She performs tunes recorded between 1935 and 1945, either fronting pianist Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra or leading her own. These are timeless, defining songs that continue to feed into the myth, magic, and tragedy that is Ms. Holiday.

Billie Holiday singing “Sugar” with Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra, 1939:

Released to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Holiday’s birth (April 7, 1915), these essential tracks showcase the singer at her peak. As a cultural icon, she has no modern-day equivalent (Amy Winehouse deserves her own story).

Hearing Holiday sing these pop tunes, jazz songs, and jukebox tracks on this artfully prepared collection is not only a gift to music fans of all stripes, but a paean to a singer who ultimately transcends genres. (Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection. Sony Legacy)

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Billie Holiday Tribute
12:37 pm
Mon April 6, 2015

WRTI Celebrates 100 Years of Lady Day on April 7th

Billie Holiday (1915—1959)

Join us on Tuesday, April 7th during jazz hours for our centennial tribute to Billie Holiday, who was born in West Philadelphia, on April 7, 1915, and went on to become a musical and social phenomenon who changed the face of music forever.  

As part of Vintage Week on WRTI, we'll present anecdotes about Lady Day and continue to play vintage jazz favorites from our jazz staff in celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month.

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WRTI Arts Desk
6:07 am
Mon April 6, 2015

Remembering The Sensational Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) - Nicknamed "Lady Day" by saxophonist Lester Young

Jazz great Billie Holiday, who died at age 44 in 1959, would have turned 100 on April 7, 2015. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, in her short career, this Philadelphia-born singer made a huge impact on jazz and American song.

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WRTI Picks from NPR Music
5:08 pm
Sun April 5, 2015

Cassandra Wilson 'Couldn't Wait' To Reinvent The Billie Holiday Songbook

Cassandra Wilson's Billie Holiday tribute album is titled Coming Forth By Day.
Mark Seliger Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 6, 2015 8:54 am

Vocalist Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago this week. Today, her place in music history is clear.

"I think we witness in Billie Holiday's music the beginning of the jazz vocal age, really," fellow vocalist Cassandra Wilson says. "Her phrasing is very conversational, and it swings — it moves with the musicians. She's very much in charge of her place in the music. She's in control of the story, and in control of her cadence."

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Happy 100th Birthday Lady Day!
7:33 am
Sun April 5, 2015

Bob Craig Celebrates Billie Holiday's Centennial: Voices in Jazz on HD-2, April 5, 3 to 6 PM

Billie Holiday

Join WRTI's Bob Craig for a special 100th birthday tribute to the great jazz singer Billie Holiday, who was born on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, and died on July 17, 1959 in New York City at age 44.

You'll hear two hours of Holiday's rare, live performances from the 1930s through the 1950s, plus an hour of other singers performing songs closely associated with "Lady Day."

That's Sunday, April 5th from 3 to 6 pm on WRTI HD-2 and the all-jazz stream at WRTI.org.

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Jazz Stories
8:55 am
Wed September 5, 2012

The Strange Story Of The Man Behind 'Strange Fruit'

Abel Meeropol watches as his sons, Robert and Michael, play with a train set.
Courtesy of Robert and Michael Meeropol

Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 3:37 pm

One of Billie Holiday's most iconic songs is "Strange Fruit," a haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism. Many people know that the man who wrote the song was inspired by a photograph of a lynching. But they might not realize that he's also tied to another watershed moment in America's history.

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