I vividly remember listening to Billie Holiday while working late nights in the drawing studio at Red Deer College and I absolutely fell in love with her voice. When my eldest daughter was a born and even to this day as an adult, Billie's voice has been a balm to her. As a toddler, we just had to turn up the volume and our daughter would fall asleep immediately. Billie was born in Harlem as Eleanora Fagan and lived a turbulent childhood. When she was young a neighbor attempted rape but she fought him off, then became an errand-runner for a brothel, eventually becoming a prostitute alongside her mother before the age of 14. She then followed in her suspected father's footsteps by becoming a musician and taking on his stage name. Her debut album was released when she was 18 as she recorded an album with Benny Goodman, where she was compared to Louis Armstrong. She had a reputation for being temperamental and unreliable after complaining about poor salaries and working conditions as well as refusing to change her style and was the first female black singer to perform with a white male band and also to perform in the segregated south. Unfortunately as an adult she experienced abusive relationships along with drug and alcohol challenges which caused her voice to suffer and eventually caused her death in the summer of 1959.
AIRdirondack Art Project