Today on April 7th 1915, the legendary jazz singer, Billie Holiday, is born.
Eleanora Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday, was born in Philadelphia to an unmarried teenage couple. Her father quickly abandoned the family to pursue a successful career as a jazz musician. Likewise, her mother Sadie struggled to financially support her daughter, often leaving her alone for to fend for herself. Billie’s unstable and challenging childhood led to ongoing drug and alcohol abuse throughout her life. However, she found solace in music and moved to New York as a young woman. She began singing in local clubs under the name Billie for the hollywood star Billie Dove.
The legendary jazz singer-songwriter went on to a brilliant career in music spanning thirty years. She revolutionized the jazz industry by turning it into mainstream music for mass audiences. She was known for her strong vocal delivery and improvisational skills, which helped cover up her lack of formal music education. Her friend and music partner Lester Young nicknamed her "Lady Day". Billie earned four Grammy Awards posthumously for Best Historical Album and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973. Diana Ross starred in a film about Holiday’s life called “Lady Sings the Blues” in 1972.
On May 25th 1959, she was rushed to the hospital after giving what would be her final performance in New York City. By now she had become severely addicted to heroine and suffered heart and liver problems. She died less than two months later at the age of 44. Complications caused by various alcohol and drug related addictions ultimately led to her death.