Monday, February 4, 2013
Billie Holiday...Legacy (1933-1958)
Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an African American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.
Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", "Fine and Mellow", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing "Easy Living", "Good Morning Heartache", and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and was made famous with her 1939 recording. Music critic Robert Christgau called her "uncoverable, possibly the greatest singer of the century".
Her distinctive delivery made Billie Holiday's performances instantly recognizable throughout her career. A master of improvisation, Billie's well-trained ear more than compensated for her lack of music education. Her voice lacked range and was somewhat thin, plus years of excessive drug use eventually altered its texture and gave it a prepossessing fragility. The emotion with which she imbued each song remained not only intact but also profound. Her last major recording, a 1958 album entitled "Lady in Satin", features the backing of a 40-piece orchestra conducted and arranged by Ray Ellis.
With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.
If you haven't heard or heard of Billie Holiday or "Lady Day" as she was affectionately known, then this 70 track collection of her finest recordings is a good place to start. Every track is a classic and there is no mistaking that unforgettable voice.....