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Billie Holiday

Considered by many to be the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, Billie Holiday lived a tempestuous and difficult life. Her singing expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work as great as any vocalist before or since.

Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915, Billie Holiday spent much of her young life in Baltimore, Maryland. Raised primarily by her mother, Holiday had only a tenuous connection with her father, who was a jazz guitarist in Fletcher Henderson's band. Living in extreme poverty, Holiday dropped out of school in the fifth grade and found a job running errands in a brothel. When she was twelve, Holiday moved with her mother to Harlem, where she was eventually arrested for prostitution.

Desperate for money, Holiday looked for work as a dancer at a Harlem speakeasy. When there wasn't an opening for a dancer, she auditioned as a singer. Long interested in both jazz and blues, Holiday wowed the owner and found herself singing at the popular Pod and Jerry's Log Cabin. This led to a number of other jobs in Harlem jazz clubs, and by 1933 she had her first major breakthrough. She was only twenty when the well-connected jazz writer and producer John Hammond heard her fill in for a better-known performer. Soon after, he reported that she was the greatest singer he had ever heard. Her bluesy vocal style brought a slow and rough quality to the jazz standards that were often upbeat and light. This combination made for poignant and distinctive renditions of songs that were already standards. By slowing the tone with emotive vocals that reset the timing and rhythm, she added a new dimension to jazz singing.

With Hammond's support, Holiday spent much of the 1930s working with a range of great jazz musicians, including Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Duke Ellington, Ben Webster, and most importantly, the saxophonist Lester Young. Together, Young and Holiday would create some of the greatest jazz recordings of all time. They were close friends throughout their lives-giving each other their now-famous nicknames of "Lady Day" and the "Prez." Sympathetic to Holiday's unique style, Young helped her create music that would best highlight her unconventional talents. With songs like "This Year's Kisses" and "Mean To Me," the two composed a perfect collaboration.

It was not, however, until 1939, with her song "Strange Fruit," that Holiday found her real audience. A deeply powerful song about lynching, "Strange Fruit" was a revelation in its disturbing and emotional condemnation of racism. Holiday's voice could be both quiet and strong at the same time. Songs such as "God Bless the Child" and "Gloomy Sunday" expressed not only her undeniable talent, but her incredible pain as well. Due to constant racial attacks, Holiday had a difficult time touring and spent much of the 1940s working in New York. While her popularity was growing, Holiday's personal life remained troubled. Though one of the highest paid performers of the time, much of her income went to pay for her serious drug addictions. Though plagued by health problems, bad relationships, and addiction, Holiday remained an unequaled performer.

By the late 1940s, after the death of her mother, Holiday's heroin addiction became so bad she was repeatedly arrested- eventually checking herself into an institution in the hopes of breaking her habit. By 1950, the authorities denied her a license to perform in establishments selling alcohol. Though she continued to record and perform afterward, this marked the major turning point in her career. For the next seven years, Holiday would slip deeper into alcoholism and begin to lose control of her once perfect voice. In 1959, after the death of her good friend Lester Young and with almost nothing to her name, Billie Holiday died at the age of forty-four. During her lifetime she had fought racism and sexism, and in the face of great personal difficulties triumphed through a deep artistic spirit. It is a tragedy that only after her death could a society, who had so often held her down, realize that in her voice could be heard the true voice of the times.


Songbooks, Arrangements and/or Media

Displaying 1-5 of 5 items.


Billie Holiday : Original Keys For Singers : Solo : Songbook : 073999822366 : 0634025872 : 00740140

Billie Holiday : Original Keys For Singers

This groundbreaking publication features authentic transcriptions in the original keys of 19 classics from the most signature recordings of the great Lady Day. Includes a biography and discography, and these classic standards in voice with piano accompaniment format. A must for every jazz singer's library!

Songlist: All Of Me, Billie's Blues (I Love My Man), Body And Soul, Crazy He Calls Me, Easy Living, Fine And Mellow, A Fine Romance, God Bless The Child, Good Morning Heartache, I Cried For You, I Wished On The Moon, Lover, Come Back To Me, Miss Brown To You, Solitude, Some Other Spring, Strange Fruit, This Year's Kisses, The Very Thought Of You, You've Changed

More details
Voicing: Solo | Performed by Billie Holiday | 9206b | Songbook | $14.95 | Voice and Piano


Billie Holiday : Pro Vocal Series : Solo : Songbook & CD : 884088240134 : 1423438523 : 00740388

Billie Holiday : Pro Vocal Series

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 - July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed Lady Day by her loyal friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday was 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. Above all, she was admired for her deeply personal and intimate approach to singing. Critic John Bush wrote that she "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", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing jazz standards written by others, including "Easy Living" and "Strange Fruit." This Pro Vocal series contains the lyrics, melody, and chord symbols for eight of her hit songs. The CD contains demos for listening, and then separate backing tracks so you can sing along. The CD is playable on any CD, but it is also enhanced for PC and Mac computer users so you can adjust the recording to any pitch without changing the tempo! Perfect for home rehearsal, parties, auditions, corporate events, and gigs without a backup band. Or for singing just for the fun of it!

Songlist: Crazy He Calls Me, Don't Explain, Don't Worry About Me, Easy Living, God Bless' The Child, Just One More Chance, Solitude, Trav'lin' Light

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Voicing: Solo | Performed by Billie Holiday | 9805b | Songbook & CD | $14.95 | Melody/Lyrics/Chords


Billie Holiday : The Very Best of Billie Holiday : Solo : 01 Songbook : 888680075965 : 1495028046 : 00147954

Billie Holiday : The Very Best of Billie Holiday

Two dozen songs are presented in this centennial edition saluting jazz musician and singer/songwriter Billie Holiday. It includes piano/vocal/guitar arrangements of: Billie's Blues (I Love My Man) - Crazy He Calls Me - Don't Explain - Easy Living - God Bless' the Child - Good Morning Heartache - I'll Be Seeing You - Lady Sings the Blues - Now or Never - Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time) - Strange Fruit - Them There Eyes - and more.

Songlist: Easy Living, Now Or Never, Billie's Blues (I Love My Man), Body And Soul, Crazy She Calls Me, It Had To Be You, Don't Explain, Fine And Mellow, Stormy Blues, God Bless' The Child, Good Morning Heartache, I'll Be Seeing You, I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, Long Gone Blues, Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?), My Man (Mon Homme), Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All The Time), Strange Fruit, Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do, Them There Eyes, What A Little Moonlight Can Do, Lady Sings The Blues, Somebody's On My Mind, Tell Me More And More And Then Some

More details
Voicing: Solo | Performed by Billie Holiday | 40105b | Songbook | $17.95 | PVG


Billie Holiday : Lady Sings the Blues : Solo : 01 Songbook : 073999572025 : 0793524458 : 00357202

Billie Holiday : Lady Sings the Blues

18 hits featuring 'The Man I Love,' 'Lover, Come Back to Me' and 'Body and Soul.'

Songlist: Easy Living, Body And Soul, Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man, Don't Explain, Easy To Love (You'd Be So Easy To Love), Embraceable You, God Bless' The Child, I Cover The Waterfront, Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?), Lover, Come Back To Me, The Man I Love, My Man (Mon Homme), Nice Work If You Can Get It, Night And Day, Strange Fruit, Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do, Them There Eyes, What Is This Thing Called Love?

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Voicing: Solo | Performed by Billie Holiday | 40117b | Songbook | $12.95 | PVG


Billie Holiday : Music of the Stars : Solo : Songbook : 884088522643 : 142349721X : 00001368

Billie Holiday : Music of the Stars

17 classics recorded by Billie Holiday, including: All of Me - Body and Soul - Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It) - Good Morning Heartache - Moonlight in Vermont - My Man (Mon Homme) - Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do - You Go to My Head - and more.

Songlist: Falling In Love Again (Can't Help It), All Of Me, Ain't Nobody's Business, Maybe You'll Be There, No More, Body And Soul, Crazy She Calls Me, We'll Be Together Again, Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans, Good Morning Heartache, It's Not For Me To Say, Moonlight In Vermont, My Man (Mon Homme), Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness If I Do, You Better Go Now, You Go To My Head, You Showed Me The Way

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Voicing: Solo | Performed by Billie Holiday | 40159b | Songbook | $14.95 | PVG


Individual Folios

Displaying 1-2 of 2 items.


God Bless the Child : SATB : Kirby Shaw : Billie Holiday : Billie Holiday : Songbook : 08657660 : 888680071592

Kirby Shaw : God Bless the Child

(Shaw) SATB

Arranger: Kirby Shaw | Composers: Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr. Performed By: Billie Holiday

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Voicing: SATB | Sheet Music | $2.10 | With Piano |
(Minimum order 4 copies)
| 08657660


God Bless' the Child : SATB : Anita Kerr : Billie Holiday : Sheet Music : 00007637 : 073999076370

Anita Kerr : God Bless' the Child

(Herzog/Holiday) SATB (Kerr)

Arranger: Anita Kerr Performed By: Billie Holiday

More details
Voicing: SATB | Sheet Music | $2.25 | With Piano |
(Minimum order 4 copies)
| 00007637

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