Celebrating Billie Holiday

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Billie Holiday would have turned 100 years old today and both Strictly Jazz host Bo Leibowitz and Rhythm Planet’s Tom Schnabel have paid tribute to the singer, who started singing in nightclubs as a teenager and released her first two tracks at age 18. Despite her success she faced rampant racism and struggled with substance abuse.

Bo dedicated his weekend show to the extraordinary singer (see the playlist below)

And Tom wrote an in -depth blog post about her life and her influence on music.

From Tom:

“Drawing from the depths of excruciating personal heartbreak, Billie used her voice as an instrument to express human pathos in a way that no others could. Her extraordinary rhythmic phrasing has often been compared to a horn, with her unique timbre and creative pacing.”

He adds a heartbreaking story:

“One of the late night KCRW DJs was playing a track off Billie’s final album from 1958, the devastating Lady in Satin, where her voice sounds shattered from a life of suffering. Ray Ellis, the orchestra conductor and arranger for the album, just happened to be listening and called into the station to reminisce. He recalled that she had had to cut her vocal tracks after the orchestral charts had already been recorded because she had failed to show up for the sessions and been too inebriated during the final one.

Editor’s Note: if you’re looking to dig even further, we suggest the BBC‬ documentary, *The Billie Holiday Story”, and picking up a copy of Jose James most recent album: “Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday”.

Strictly Jazz Billie Holiday Tribute Show

“On The Sunny Side Of The Street”
“Can’t Get Started”
“Long Gone Blues”
“As Time Goes By”
“Let’s Do It”
“God Bless The Child”
“Your Mother’s Son In Law”
“Nice Work If You Can Get It”
“What A Little Moonlight Can Do”
“These Foolish Things”
“I Cried For You”
“Did I Remember?”
“No Regrets”
“Swing Brother Swing!”
“They Can’t Take That Away From Me”
“All Of Me”
“I Must Have That Man”
“Foolin’ Myself”
“He’s Funny That Way”
“Strange Fruit”
“I Cover The Waterfront”
“Lover Man”
“I Wished On The Moon”
“Billie’s Blues”
“Lady Sings The Blues”
“Everything Happens To Me”
“All Of You”
“The End Of A Love Affair”