Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday Lady Day.jpg
Billie Holiday, 1949
Background information
Birth nameEleanora Fagan
Also known asLady Day, Queen of Song
Born(1915-04-07)April 7, 1915
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OriginHarlem, New York, U.S.
DiedJuly 17, 1959(1959-07-17) (aged 44)
New York City, New York, U.S.
GenresJazz, vocal jazz, jazz blues, torch songs, ballads, swing
Years active1933—1959

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. She was also called "Lady Day", a nickname that her friend and musical partner Lester Young gave her. Holiday was a very important influence on jazz and pop singing. The way that she sang was similar to the way jazz musicians played their instruments. She was admired for her very personal and intimate way of singing. Critic John Bush wrote that she "changed the art of American pop vocals forever."[1]

She co-wrote some songs which have become jazz standards, like "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing jazz standards written by other people, like "Easy Living" and "Strange Fruit".

Early life

Holiday was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1915, a Roman Catholic. She had a difficult childhood, which affected her life and career. Not much is known about her early life, but there are stories about it in her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, which was published in 1956. Later, it was found out that some parts of this book were wrong.[2]

Billie Holiday at two years old in 1917

Holiday got her pseudonym, or stage name, from Billie Dove, an actress she admired, and Clarence Holiday, the man who was probably her father.[3] At the beginning of her career, she spelled her last name "Halliday", but then changed it back to "Holiday" (they are pronounced the same, 'Hahliday', in American English).

People have never been sure who Holiday's father was. This is because her birth certificate said her father was called Frank DeViese. Some people now think that this was a mistake that somebody made when she was born.[4]

Holiday's mother was called Sadie Fagan. Fagan became pregnant when she was 13 years old. Her parents threw her out of her home in Baltimore, and she went to Philadelphia where her daughter Eleanora (Billie Holiday) was born. Fagan moved back to Baltimore and married Clarence Holiday, who was probably her baby's father, but they later divorced. When she was 10 years old, Holiday often missed school. When she said that she had been raped,[5] she was sent to The House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform school. She was allowed out two years later, with the help of a family friend.[6] Holiday moved to New York City with her mother in 1928. In 1929 Holiday's mother saw a neighbor, Wilbert Rich, raping Holiday. Rich was sentenced to three months in jail. But after her incident as a rape victim she was still constantly raped by drunk men in her neighborhood. She almost got pregnant by a drunk man walking down their street.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Billie Holiday
العربية: بيلي هوليدي
aragonés: Billie Holiday
asturianu: Billie Holiday
български: Били Холидей
bosanski: Billie Holiday
brezhoneg: Billie Holiday
čeština: Billie Holiday
Chi-Chewa: Billie Holiday
Ελληνικά: Μπίλι Χόλιντεϊ
español: Billie Holiday
Esperanto: Billie Holiday
français: Billie Holiday
hrvatski: Billie Holiday
Bahasa Indonesia: Billie Holiday
italiano: Billie Holiday
ქართული: ბილი ჰოლიდეი
Kiswahili: Billie Holiday
Kreyòl ayisyen: Billie Holiday
latviešu: Bilija Holideja
Lëtzebuergesch: Billie Holiday
lietuvių: Billie Holiday
македонски: Били Холидеј
Nederlands: Billie Holiday
norsk nynorsk: Billie Holiday
Plattdüütsch: Billie Holiday
português: Billie Holiday
română: Billie Holiday
sicilianu: Billie Holiday
српски / srpski: Били Холидеј
Türkçe: Billie Holiday
українська: Біллі Голідей
Yorùbá: Billie Holiday