Biography On Billie Holiday: The Jazz Singer

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Biography on Billie Holiday: The Jazz Singer

Biography on Billie Holiday: The Jazz Singer


One of the most popular singers in US History, Billie Holiday was Born on 1915 in the month of April. The place of her birth was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was originally named as Eleanora Fagan. She was considered as one of the best jazz singers and song writer of America. Holiday had a booming career for several decades before she succumbed to liver cirrhosis and lost her life. She was nicknamed as the “Lady Day” by her friend and musical partner Lester Young. Her style was a strong blend of jazz instruments and was one of the pioneers of jazz vocals and tempo. John Bush, a critic during her times wrote that Holiday had changed American pop vocals forever. There were few songs that she wrote, but many became the standards for new comers in the jazz music. Few of her hit songs were 'God Bless the Child', 'Dont Explain' and 'Lady Sings the Blues'(Anonymous, 2010).

Rough Childhood and Education

Billie Holiday had a difficult childhood. Her father was a well known musician, named Clarence Holiday. He was a teenager at that time and therefore did not live with her mother when she was pregnant with her. Later, her mother, Sarah Julia was asked to leave home when she was found pregnant at the age of thirteen. Without any support from her parents, Sarah moved to Philadelphia and handed Holiday to her older sister Eva Miller.

Holiday had a hard time during her childhood years. Her mother usually worked in transportation on passenger railroads. Mostly, she was not there for Holiday, who had to stay with her aunt's mother in law. During much of her first ten years, Holiday suffered from her mother's absence. Later, her mother married Philip Gough, but their knot ended within two years. Once again, Billie was handed over to her aunt's mother in law while her mother went out for jobs. Unfortunately, due to weak financials, Holiday frequently left school. Later at the age of ten, the issue was taken up by the juvenile court on 5 January, 1925. It was the court's decision to send her to Catholic school (Anonymous, 2010). She was baptized there, and after nine months, her mother gained back her custody as she opened up a restaurant. Holiday worked late hours with her mother at the restaurant, and by the age of eleven she was again dropped out of school.

In 1926, Holiday was raped by her neighbor in the absence of her mother. Later when she found out, the man was arrested. Once again Holiday was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd in protective custody as a witness in the rape case. When she was released she got a job of running errands in a brothel. This was the time she first heard the records of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. In 1929, Holiday and her mother moved to Harlem, New York. The landlady ran a brothel over ...
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