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Billie Holiday and Her Orchestra

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Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed “Lady Day” by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday was a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.

Billie Holiday had a difficult childhood. Much information once not considered true was confirmed in the book Billie Holiday by Stuart Nicholson in 1995. Holiday’s autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, which was first published in 1956, is sketchy when it comes to details about her early life, but has been confirmed by the Nicholson research.

Her professional pseudonym was taken from Billie Dove, an actress she admired, and Clarence Holiday, her probable father. At the outset of her career, she spelled her last name Halliday, which was the birth-surname of her father, but eventually changed it to Holiday, his performing name.

Her distinct delivery made Billie Holiday’s performances instantly recognizable throughout her career. A master of improvisation, Billie’s well-trained ear more than compensated for her lack of music education performance really was.

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