Billie Holiday Is Born

Jazz singer Billie Holiday was born on April 7, 1915, in Baltimore, Maryland.

She made her professional singing debut in Harlem nightclubs in 1931, and her first recordings in 1933. Although she had no formal musical training, she became one of the greatest jazz singers of all time; her recordings are now regarded as masterpieces.

Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues,1 opens with the line: "Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married; he was 18, she was 16 and I was three." Holiday's given name was Eleanora Fagan, but when she started to perform she chose the stage name Billie after Billie Dove, a star in silent, and later sound, movies.

Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed Lady Day by her loyal 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. Above all, she was admired for her deeply personal and intimate approach to singing. Critic John Bush wrote that she "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing jazz standards written by others, including "Easy Living" and "Strange Fruit."

Mama may have, Papa may have,
But God bless the child that's got his own. ”

— Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog, Jr., "God Bless the Child"