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BILLIE HOLIDAY

JAZZ SINGER AND ACTRESS (1915-1959)

Billie Holiday was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1915.  Her parents were Clarence Holiday and Sally Fagan.  Her name at birth was Elanor Fagan Gough and her father would call her by her nickname Bill.  She later changed her name to Billie Holiday as she began her singing career.  When she was 15, Billie was looking for a job to help pay for her rent.  She stopped by Pod's and Jerry's on Seventh Avenue in New York to ask for a job as a dancer.  However, her future was not bright as a dancer because she only knew two steps.  Jerry felt his time was being wasted and wanted her to leave. 

Before leaving the pianist, who was feeling sorry for her, asked her to sing.  She said "yes", and sang the entitled "Trav'Lin All Alone," an Earl Hines ballad.  As she began singing, everybody in the bar became silent and was awed at her beautiful voice.  That night would change her life forever.  After Pod's and Jerry's, she began singing at her new job in the Log Cabin.  There she would meet Joe Glaser who would become her agent. 

She eventually would sign a contract with a major record company, which would lead to increased fame and popularity.  Billie recorded with Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson, she would finally become the main person doing recordings in the studio and people were hired to record with her.  A movie was made about the life of Billie in 1973, called "The Lady Sings the Blues."  Tragically, Billie's life was cut short on July 17, 1959, at the age of 44, due to a drug and alcohol addiction. 

Revised: July 18, 2013.