Eleanora Fagan, a.k.a. Billie Holiday, a.k.a. Lady Day, was born on April 7, 1915. Working with both the Count Basie Orchestra and the Artie Shaw Orchestra, her distinctive and groundbreaking vocal approach changed the face of jazz, soul and pop music in the 20th century.
Strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists of the day, Holiday pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection will offer the definitive single-disc chronicle of her career.
Holiday's career was brief but pivotal considering how she virtually changed the landscape of jazz vocals by breaking free of the standard "reading" of the songs she would perform on stage and in studio. "I don't think I'm singing," she once said of her delivery. "I feel like I'm playing a horn...What comes out is what I feel."
Her unique, emotive voice and idiosyncratic delivery which often altered the familiar rhythm and meter of the standards she sang early in her career planted the seeds for virtually every major female popular singer of the 20th century and beyond.
A fixture of the New York nightclub scene throughout the 1930s, Holiday would collaborate with such luminaries of jazz as Benny Goodman, Count Basie and tenor saxophonist, Lester Young. It was Young who would eventually bestow upon Holiday her famous nickname, "Lady Day".
Her irascible, unpredictable style and fiery offstage rapport with musicians and bandleaders meant she rarely stayed in one place twice, cutting singles for Columbia, Brunswick and Vocalion including "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," "Billie's Blues," "The Very Thought Of You" and her own composition "God Bless The Child."
Her signature song, however, may have been her most controversial: "Strange Fruit," a gripping tale of racial injustice deemed too controversial for Columbia at the time but a generous seller for Commodore Records in the late 1930s.
Billie Holiday: The Centennial Collection, featuring 20 tracks recorded over her entire career, is the perfect tribute to this legendary performer.
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