Born in the poor part of Baltimore to two teenage parents, Billie turned to music as a way to support herself. At 15 years old, after moving to New York City with her mother, she started singing in Harlem nightclubs for tips. At 18 years old, record producer John Hammond discovered her at a club and took her under his wing. She was heavy into alcohol and heroin, which, along with her tempestuous love life, often got in the way of her career.
Not long after Eleanora was born, Clarence abandoned his family to pursue a career as a jazz banjo player and guitarist. With no support from her parents, she made arrangements with her older, married half-sister Eva Miller for Eleanora to stay with her in Baltimore. Holiday aged 2 in Holiday had a difficult childhood.
Her mother often took what were then known as transportation jobs, serving on passenger railroads. Eleonora was left with Martha Miller again while her mother took more transportation jobs.
She was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform schoolwhere she was baptized on March 19, After nine months in care, she was "paroled" on October 3, to her mother. She had opened a restaurant, the East Side Grill, and mother and daughter worked long hours there.
By age 11, Holiday had dropped out of school. She successfully fought back, and Rich was arrested. Officials placed Eleanora in the House of the Good Shepherd under protective custody as a state witness in the rape case.
She found a job running errands in a brothel,  and she scrubbed marble steps and kitchen and bathroom floors of neighborhood homes. Their landlady was a sharply-dressed woman named Florence Williams, who ran a brothel at West th Street. After spending time in a workhouseher mother was released in July, and Holiday was released in October.
Early career[ edit ] As a young teenager, Holiday started singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She took her professional pseudonym from Billie Dovean actress she admired, and the musician Clarence Holiday, her probable father.
The young singer teamed up with a neighbor, tenor saxophone player Kenneth Hollan. She recorded two songs: A Rhapsody of Negro Life. In her scene she sang "Saddest Tale". Recordings with Teddy Wilson[ edit ] In Holiday was signed to Brunswick Records by John Hammond to record current pop tunes with Teddy Wilson in the new swing style for the growing jukebox trade.
They were given free rein to improvise the material.
After "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" garnered success, however, the company began considering Holiday an artist in her own right. The sessions were co-produced by Hammond and Bernie Hanighen.
She was then in her twenties. He said, "I think you can hear that on some of the old records, you know. Hammond spoke about the commercial impact of the Wilson-Holiday sides from tocalling them a great asset to Brunswick.
The record label, according to Hammond, was broke and unable to record many jazz tunes. Wilson, Holiday, Young, and other musicians came into the studio without musical arrangements and improvised as they performed, dispensing with the expense of having written arrangements, so that the records they produced were cheap.
Holiday was never given any royalties for her work, instead being paid a flat fee, which saved the company money. Some of the records produced were successful, such as " I Cried for You ", which sold 15, copies.
Hammond said of the record, "15, I mean a giant hit. Most records that made money sold around three to four thousand. Holiday chose the songs she sang and had a hand in the arrangements, choosing to portray her developing persona of a woman unlucky in love.
The two later became friends. Webb and Fitzgerald were declared winners by Metronome magazine, while DownBeat magazine pronounced Holiday and Basie the winners.
Fitzgerald won a straw poll of the audience by a three-to-one margin.Billie Holiday's chaotic life reportedly began in Baltimore on April 7, (a few reports say ) when she was born Eleanora Fagan Gough. Her father, Clarence Holiday, was a teenaged jazz guitarist and banjo player later to play in Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra.
Denver's First Lady, Mary Louise Lee, is on stage performing the life and music of jazz legend Billie Holiday. Eleanora Fagan (April 7, – July 17, ), better 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 a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing.
Watch video · Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, , in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” examines the life and music of jazz master Billie Holiday, in a way that celebrates her art without turning away from the desperation that surrounded her.
Billie Holiday Biography. Jazz vocalist Billie Holiday was born in in Philadelphia. Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years before she lost her battle with substance abuse.
Also known as Lady Day, her autobiography was made into the film Lady Sings the Blues. In , Billie Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.