Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday is widely considered the greatest jazz vocalist of all time. During her legendary career, Lady Day crafted a seminal vocal style which changed pop singing forever. It is this distinctive vocal delivery, marked by a uniquely instrumental tone (often like that of Armstrong’s trumpet or Young’s saxophone,) laconic poise and emotive poignancy that makes Holiday’s recordings so instantly recognizable. And yet with such public admiration, so too did she lead a deeply tumultuous and troubled private life; Billie Holiday grew up in poverty and suffered a string of abusive relationships, periods of depression and lifelong substance addiction. Her unfortunate intimacy with racism and sexism, however, was matched with a brazen artistic spirit which enabled Holiday to break down barriers throughout her extraordinary and prolific career. The anguished, moving “Strange Fruit” exposes the historically-heinous racial brutalities of southern United States, while songs such as “God Bless the Child,” Don’t Explain” and “Lady Sings the Blues” have become jazz standards. Billie Holiday was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, forever cementing her stature as an unequaled interpreter of song.

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