Happy Birthday, Billie!
If I could listen to only one singer for the rest of my life, she’d be the one.
No one gives you more of life.
Inessentials? No one offers fewer.
Moment by moment, no one is more enthralling.
“The Blues Are Brewin’,” with Louis Armstrong (New Orleans, 1947)
“Fine and Mellow,” with Ben Webster (ts), Lester Young (ts), Vic Dickenson (trbn), Gerry Mulligan (bs), Coleman Hawkins (ts), Roy Eldridge (trmpt), live (TV broadcast), 1957
“What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” with Mal Waldron (p), live (TV broadcast), 1958
Want more? Here.
Radio Billie: all Billie, all the time
In celebration of Billie Holiday’s birthday, WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University) is playing her music all day.
BILLIE HOLIDAY BIRTHDAY BROADCAST : APRIL 7th, 2010
Ninety-five years after her birth, on April 7th, 2010, WKCR will dedicate all programming to Billie Holiday. Born Elinore Fagan in Baltimore, Holiday learned songs by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith despite the instability and tragedy of her childhood. In 1929, she teamed up with tenor sax player Kenneth Hollan, slowly building her reputation as a vocalist. She replaced Monette Moore at a club called “Covan’s” on West 132 Street in 1932. When producer John Hammond came to see Moore, he was instead captivated by Holiday. He secured a record deal for her, and she recorded two tracks with Benny Goodman. She soon began to record under her own name, collaborating with the greatest artists of the swing era. With pianist Teddy Wilson, she manipulated the melody of dull pop songs for jukeboxes, transforming them into jazz standards, and she courageously recorded “Strange Fruit” with Commodore records when Columbia rejected the sensitive subject matter. Though her career was strained by substance abuse and heartbreak, her voice did not deteriorate. As she inscribed the catastrophes of her life on the texture of her voice, it became only more powerful, more haunting. On April 7th, we will examine the life of this great, mysterious artist, but most importantly, we will listen to her voice.—WKCR-FM