Billie Holiday

Active - 1935 - 2019  |   Born - Apr 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States  |   Died - Jul 17, 1959   |   Genres - Music

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

One of the most famous female jazz/blues singers, Billie Holiday only appeared in one feature film, New Orleans, but her enduring music has been heard on many soundtracks. Her tragic life was recounted in 1972 in Lady Sings the Blues. Holiday was played by Diana Ross.

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  • Changed her first name to Billie in tribute to movie star Billie Dove; Holiday was her father's surname. 
  • Was discovered at a Harlem jazz club at the age of 18. 
  • Made her movie debut as an extra in 1933's The Emperor Jones.
  • Was nicknamed "Lady Day" by saxophonist Lester Young. 
  • In 1938, became one of the first black singers to work with an all-white band.
  • Member of the 1979 induction class into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.
  • A bronze statue of her was erected in 1985 in her hometown of Baltimore, MD.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
  • Honored in 2005 with a Grammy Hall of Fame award.