Billie Holiday Essay

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Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan) also known as Lady Day was an American jazz singer and phenomenon in the 1950’s who not only greatly influenced jazz and pop singing, but through her vocal style, she pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Holiday had a very tumultuous childhood, which also manifested continuously in her adult years. Some believe because of it, Holiday was able to exploit her sorrowful and melancholy disposition and create expressive genius music and a one of a kind vocal technique. “As a young teenager, Holiday served the beginning part of her so-called ‘apprenticeship’ by singing along with records by Bessie Smith or Louis Armstrong in after-hours jazz clubs. When Holiday's mother, Sadie Fagan, moved to New York in search of a better job, Billie eventually went with her. She made her true singing debut in obscure Harlem nightclubs and borrowed her professional name “Billie Holiday” from screen star Billie Dove.” (Wilson, 1958) Although she never underwent any technical training and never even learned how to read sheet music, Holiday quickly became an active participant in what was then, one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the country. Holiday would move from one club to another, working for tips. She would sometimes sing with the accompaniment of a house piano player while other times she would work as part of a group of performers. At the age of 18 and after gaining more experience than most adult musicians can claim, Holiday was spotted by John Hammond and cut her first record as part of a studio group led by Benny Goodman, who was then just on the verge of public notoriety. In 1935 Holiday's career got a big push when she recorded four sides that went on to become hits, including "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and "Miss Brown to You." This landed her a recording contract of her own, and then, until 1942, she

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