Name at birth: Eleanora FaganBillie Holiday was one of the first and greatest of American jazz singers, known in equal parts for her unique and laconic timing, her wistful and brassy vocals, and her troubled personal life. Billie Holiday began singing in Harlem clubs as a teenager, and first recorded (with Benny Goodman) in 1933. She was a sensation at New York's famous jazz club, The Apollo, and sang with the bands of Artie Shaw and Count Basie, among others. Holiday was nicknamed "Lady Day" during this era by saxophonist Lester Young, with whom she often recorded. In the 1940s, Billie Holiday began using heroin and opium, and her last years were marked by her decline in health as a result of drink and drugs. Her most famous songs include "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," "Lover Man" and "My Man." Her 1956 autobiography was titled Lady Sings the Blues. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early influence in the year 2000. Billie Holiday was also honored with a U.S. Postal Service stamp in 1994.
According to the official website of her estate, Billie Holiday “made her true singing debut in obscure Harlem nightclubs and borrowed her professional name – Billie Holiday – from screen star Billie Dove.” The “Holiday” was apparently from her father, Clarence Holiday, who was not married to her mother… Diana Ross played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, the 1972 film with the same name as Holliday’s autobiography… Billie Holliday was 5’5″ tall, according to her estate’s official website… She often wore a white gardenia in her hair, and it became her visual signature.
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