Billie Holiday Research Paper

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From her birth on April 7, 1915, to her alcohol induced death on July 17, 1959, at age 44, Billie Holiday was one of the most important jazz vocalists and jazz musicians of all time (Clarke). Below her successes, there lied many tragedies. Holiday’s life was spent battling racism and sexism, as well as addictions to heroin and alcohol; in fact, during her peak popularity, Holiday was unable to travel away from New York due to racism (“Billie Holiday: About the Singer”). In her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, Holiday claims to have been mistreated by her relatives who looked over her before she moved to New York to be with her mother at the age of twelve. The abusive relationships of her childhood lead to abusive relationships throughout her life, the most notable being with Louis McKay in her later years (Clarke). Holiday and her mother were both arrested for prostitution soon after Holiday’s arrival in New York.…show more content…
Young and Holiday had a wonderful professional relationship in which they worked off of each other’s talents, with such tunes as “This Year’s Kisses” and “Mean To Me” being prime examples (“Billie Holiday: About the Singer”). The two are responsible for creating one another’s longtime nicknames: “Lady Day” and “Prez” (“Billie Holiday: About the Singer”). Holiday’s first recordings occurred in 1933 with Benny Goodman, when Goodman was still a little-known clarinetist (Clarke). She also took part in Rapsody in Black, a 1935 short film with Duke Ellington, while making a debut at the Apollo that same year (Clarke). Touring with Count Baisie and Artie Shaw in 1937 and 1938, respectively, Holiday was “one of the first black singers featured with a white orchestra” (“Billie

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