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Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Norah Jones owes a lot to the influence of Billie Holiday, “the Lady Singing the Blues.” 

To discover Billie Holiday

Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan in 1915 in Philadelphia, and grew up in Baltimore before joining her mother in New York City in 1928. To escape a life of prostitution and delinquency, she adopted the name Billie Holiday as an homage to her favorite silent film star, Billie Dove, and began performing in New York jazz clubs. Together with Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, among others, she was one of the main African-American figures in jazz singing, who stood out for her unique, personal style.

With her difficult childhood and fierce, life-long struggle against racism, her unique voice resounds like a cry from the heart. The album Lady Sings The Blues (1956) includes some of Lady Day’s most socially engaged work, including the symbolic “Strange Fruit,” which denounced the lynching of blacks in the South, something that still took place in 1939.

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