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Billie Holiday

Eleanora Fagan (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), professionally known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz singer with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had an innovative influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills.

After a turbulent childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem, where she was heard by the producer John Hammond, who commended her voice. She signed a recording contract with Brunswick in 1935. Collaborations with Teddy Wilson yielded the hit "What a Little Moonlight Can Do", which became a jazz standard. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Holiday had mainstream success on labels such as Columbia and Decca. By the late 1940s, however, she was beset with legal troubles and drug abuse. After a short prison sentence, she performed at a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, but her reputation deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems.

She was a successful concert performer throughout the 1950s with two further sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall. Due to personal struggles and an altered voice, her final recordings were met with mixed reaction, but were mild commercial successes. Her final album, Lady in Satin, was released in 1958. Holiday died of cirrhosis on July 17, 1959.

She won four Grammy Awards, all of them posthumously, for Best Historical Album. She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973. Lady Sings the Blues, a film about her life, starring Diana Ross, was released in 1972. She is the primary character in the play (later made into a film) Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill; the role was originated by Reenie Upchurch in 1986, and was played by Audra McDonald on Broadway and in the film. In 2017 Holiday was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

Birth and Death Data: Born April 7, 1915 (Philadelphia), Died July 17, 1959 (Metropolitan Hospital Center)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1933 - 1950

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, songwriter

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 47 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-024083 10-in. 7/24/1938 Any old time Artie Shaw Orchestra ; Billie Holiday Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo vocalist  
Victor BS-067505 10-in. 7/29/1941 God bless' the child Deep River Boys ; Bea Wain Female vocal solo and male vocal quartet, with jazz/dance band songwriter  
Columbia W152568 10-in. 11/27/1933 Your mother's son-in-law Benny Goodman Orchestra ; Billie Holiday Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo vocalist  
Columbia W152650 10-in. 12/18/1933 Riffin' the scotch Benny Goodman Orchestra ; Billie Holiday Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo vocalist  
Decca 72404 10-in. 10/4/1944 Lover man (oh, where can you be?) Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 72405 10-in. 10/4/1944 No more Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 72497 10-in. 11/8/1944 That ole devil called love Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 72498 11/8/1944 Don't explain Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 72499 11/8/1944 Big stuff Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73006 10-in. 8/14/1945 Don't explain-1 Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73007 8/14/1945 Big stuff-1,3 Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73008 10-in. 8/14/1945 You better go now-2 Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73009 10-in. 8/14/1945 What is this thing called love?-2 Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73300 1/22/1946 Good morning heartache-1 Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73301[a] 1/22/1946 Big Stuff Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73301 1/22/1946 No good man Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73440 3/13/1946 Big stuff (Prologue)-1 Billie Holiday Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 73497 4/9/1946 Baby, I don't cry over you Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73498 4/9/1946 I'll look around Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73767 12/27/1946 The blues are brewin' Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73768 12/27/1946 Guilty Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73769[a] 12/27/1946 Careless love Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73792 2/13/1947 Deep song Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73793 2/13/1947 There is no greater love Billie Holiday vocalist  
Decca 73794 2/13/1947 Easy living Billie Holiday vocalist  
(Results 1-25 of 47 records)


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Holiday, Billie," accessed March 31, 2023,

Holiday, Billie. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

"Holiday, Billie." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 31 March 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier


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