How Old Is The Girl In God Help The Girl The Sad Life of Billie Holiday

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The Sad Life of Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday Biography is about probably the most famous female jazz artist… The lady had blues people! She was some lady who dealt with all the stresses in her life.

It’s easy to get mental help for depression today, but it wasn’t so easy in Billie’s day… today Xanax or Prozac are readily available! For Billie it was alcohol and heroin… what a shame!

Billie “Lady Day” Holiday was born in Baltimore in 1915. She had a difficult childhood – her musician father left the family early and her mother was unable to consistently support her, which led to Billie often being placed in foster care or with relatives. who abused her.

She was raped at the age of 11 and grew up in poverty. She says it best in the first line of her famous autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues: “Mum and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three.”

In 1929, she moved to New York, where she worked as a maid and then as a teenage prostitute. According to legend, in 1930 (at the age of 15), to prevent her mother from being evicted, she sang Body and Soul and brought the audience to tears. That lady sure could sing… even as a child she was a grown woman.

Billie Holiday began singing in bars and restaurants. Four years later, she made her first record with Benny Goodman. She had her big break in 1935 when she recorded four sides featuring What a Little Moonlight Can Do and Miss Brown to You.

She got her own record deal, and even though the songs she was given were run-of-the-mill (versus those saved for the best white singers), she made the songs classics because of her singing ability. That girl wasn’t supposed to “own” any song she sang…she put her “stamp” on it! LIKE A REAL “JAZZ-CAT”!

Her vocal quality wasn’t great and her vocal range was limited, but she had an uncanny ability to breathe life into a song with things like pauses and expletives – making the song more of a story or an experience than just a group of notes sung with her voice.

She poured her heart and soul into every song and her ability to interpret a song and make you feel like it was unheard. Although it’s more common today, Billie Holiday pioneered the style, taking ordinary second rate songs and making them extraordinary.

In 1936 she recorded with pianist Teddy Wilson, where she collaborated for the first time with Lester Young. These two were made for each other. As he played his phrases with hers, he breathed as she did. They complemented each other perfectly in terms of style. He nicknamed her “Lady Day” and she nicknamed him “Prez”. They sounded like 2 voices from the same person.

Her recording career is divided into 3 periods. The first is the period in the 1930s, recorded with Columbia, marked by her time with Wilson, Goodman and Young. Her music was made for jukeboxes, but she turned them into jazz classics. Its popularity never equaled its artistic success, but it was widely played on armed forces radio during World War II.

From this period comes the anti-racist song Strange Fruit, in which he paints a gruesome image of lynched black bodies hanging from trees. The lyrics of the song were adapted from a poem by Louis Allen.

Another period is her Decca (record company) years in the 1940s, marked by recordings accompanied by a string orchestra. While the recordings from this period are impressive, they are not that “jazzy”. This period featured Loverman as well as her self-penned classics Don’t Explain and God Bless the Child. In late 1947, she was arrested on drug charges and spent 18 months in a federal penitentiary.

But the lady made terrible choices when it came to men! She fell in love with men who stole her money, abused her and introduced her to heroin. When she got out of prison, she went back to heroin. To be honest, guys; I don’t think a good man can drive any woman to drink or drugs!

In the 1950s, in the third third, her voice was already going, her voice was more hoarse and she sometimes missed notes, but her ability to interpret songs improved. Some consider this work with the Verve records to be some of her best.

Her classic recording of Lady in Satin was described by Ron David as “sounding like her voice had died and come back to haunt us from the grave”.

It is not known whether poverty, drugs or drink killed her (or all three), but in a sad irony, she was arrested on her deathbed in 1959 on narcotics charges. Isn’t that a shame? Enough to give me the blues and cry in my beer!

With all the sadness surrounding the lady, it’s a wonder she was able to make the amazing music she did! Thank God for her power to bring us a true original sound… the true DIVA is Billie Holiday!

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