16 July 2007

"Music Gladdens the Heart" swap

Billie Holiday was one of the top female jazz vocalists of our time. I would love to share a little bit about her.

She was born "Eleanora Fagan Gough" in Philadelphia on April 7, 1915 and died on July 17, 1959 in NYC ~ 48 years ago one day after I posted this! She sang torch songs, blues, ballads, swing, standards that were dreamy and bittersweet! She was influenced by Louis Armstrong, Lester Young & Bessie Smith and performed songs by George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Duke Ellington, to name a FEW!!

She was the first popular jazz singer to move audiences with the intense, personal feeling of classic blues and changed the art of American pop vocals forever! She refused to compromise her artistry for either the song or the band. In an age of interchangeable crooners and band singers, her style was all her own, with her spirit shining through on every recording,

Billie moved to New York with her mother (an unwed teenager) helping her with domestic work, but soon began moonlighting as a prostitute for the additional income. According to the legend, her big singing break came during a laughable dancing audition at a speakeasy when she was prompted by her accompanist to ask her if SHE COULD SING! She was singing at clubs all over New York City as early as 1930-31 (at fifteen!) and first gained publicity in 1933, when record producer John Hammond - just 3 years older than Holiday herself - wrote her up in a column for Melody Maker and brought BENNY GOODMAN to one of her performances. She made her commercial debut with his group on November 27, 1933.

After a long, successful career and a protracted battle with a heroin addiction, she died tragically at the age of 44 collapsing in May 1959 of heart and liver disease. Still procuring heroin while on her deathbed, she was arrested for possession and died July 17, her system unable to fight both withdrawal and heart disease at the same time. Her cult of influence spread quickly after her death and gave her more fame than she enjoyed in life! The film Lady Sings The Blues, with Diana Ross illuminated her tragic life and introduced many future fans! By the digital age, virtually all of Holiday's recorded material had been reissued by Columbia, Decca and Verve.

This is just one of six cards that were made for a swap on one of my favorite Yahoo Groups, Paper Traders, and are in the air between CT and WY as I write. I have been a member for six months and this is my very first swap! It is what I call a "juried" group, meaning that you have to be approved by submitting a link to your work. There are several other groups that operate that way, as well. It really does makes "belonging" THAT much more special because we all enjoy being recognized for our efforts!

I appreciate YOU for taking the time to drop in, read THIS FAR and I hope you will return again!


Sandy said...

Oh. I can't help it - as I told you before these cards easily bring tears to my eyes. They are so beatiful and every time I see them I hear her singing God Bless the Child. I have fond memories of that song and I love her voice. Thank you for inspiring me! I will get that film one way or the other and before I have it I will put her record on. I just wish I had it on vinyl.

gina said...

What a cool tribute and an awsome art piece! Definately will be back!