Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth by John Szwed

By John Szwed

Kirkus top Books of 2015 choice for Biography •

Published in get together of Holiday’s centenary, the 1st biography to target the singer’s amazing musical talent

When Billie vacation stepped into Columbia’s studios in November 1933, it marked the start of what's arguably the main extraordinary and influential profession in twentieth-century renowned song. Her voice weathered numerous shifts in public flavor, and new reincarnations of her proceed to reach, so much lately within the type of singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele.

Most of the writing on vacation has enthusiastic about the tragic info of her life—her prostitution on the age of fourteen, her heroin habit and alcoholism, her sequence of abusive relationships—or attempted to right the various fabrications of her autobiography. yet now, Billie vacation remains with reference to the tune, to her functionality sort, and to the self she created and positioned into print, on list and on stage.

Drawing on an unlimited volume of recent fabric that has surfaced within the final decade, seriously acclaimed jazz author John Szwed considers how her lifestyles inflected her artwork, her affects, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a few her signature songs, and her legacy.

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Extra resources for Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

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She wanted compliments flowing in her direction only. ” Aimee leaned to a friend next to her and whispered, “I saw Tina wearing that shirt last week. ” Soon 48 The Me Nobody Knew her opinion filtered through the minds of everybody else. It never fails, I thought. I just can’t win. I had so many ways to count the number of my friends. I counted how many people stood in a cluster around my locker to gossip before school started, how many friends sat with me at lunch, how many notes I dumped on my desk at the end of the school day, how many phone calls I got in one night.

Makeup helped me feel prettier. I used eye shadow and black eyeliner to make my big blue eyes look brighter. I wore the latest lipstick shade. With foundation, I could cover my pimples and make my face look tanner. Tan! I went to tanning beds. At one point, I was so addicted to tanning beds that if I missed a day, I was sure I looked ghost-white. In reality, I was as dark as a tree. My skin looked like leather. I’m sure it actually was turning into leather from the UV rays. I was so obsessed. 38 The Me Nobody Knew What I wanted was to look exactly like Lisa, Julie, or Domenica.

By 5:30, the garage door would open. My father’s car would pull in. My stomach turned. I didn’t want to talk to him. It didn’t matter if I had been laughing at the funniest show on TV—I wouldn’t laugh when my dad was around. I didn’t want him to see me smile. ” “I can’t hear you. ” he’d ask. Of course you couldn’t hear me. I did that on purpose. ” I’d scream. Then I’d get up home alone 57 off the couch, stomp to my room, and slam the door. My reaction to my dad was nothing compared to my fury when my mom talked to me.

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