Billie Holiday Research Paper

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Before women truly had any rights in the United States, it was almost impossible to speak out for anything, especially for African American women. Eleanora Fagan, known for her stage name Billie Holiday, was born in this difficult time period. Known not only for her revolutionizing jazz style of music, Holiday spoke out about sensitive subjects through her lyrics. Few people understood her message at first, but that was her goal. Her innovative phrasing and emotional intensity made her one of the most influential jazz lyricists of the 20th century, and helped change not only music but history as well. Born on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Holiday grew up in an extremely unstable home. Her father, Clarence Holiday, left their family when Billie was just a little girl, and…show more content…
Holiday had a knack for music. Everything about it seemed to come naturally to her. Never once did she have any professional vocal training nor did she learn how to read music. She spoke and breathed music. She didn’t just sing words, she often lived the words she sang bringing an emotional intensity that was unique for the era. Her lyrics were shaped from memories of her own personal experiences as well as personal opinions. She possessed a magnificent voice, unique timing, sense of drama and clarity of phrasing which clearly set her apart from other female jazz vocalists of the time. Her range of voice was not the greatest, but, her distinctive gravelly tone became very famous and influential. Her vocal style, which was greatly influenced by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of handling tempo and phrasing and her deeply intimate, personal approach to singing changed music’s future as well. She said of her style, “I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That’s all I know” (“Black History

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