(born Eleanora Harris April 7, 1915 -- July 17, 1959)
was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had 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.
Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "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", "Fine and Mellow", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing "Easy Living", "Good Morning Heartache", and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and was made famous with her 1939 recording.
Controversial celebrities of the 20th century. Jazz singer Billie Holiday is remembered today for her turbulent personal life as much as for her artistic achievements - addicted to drink, drugs and abusive men, the enduring image is of a tragic victim. However, archive footage and interviews with friends reveal a different Lady Day - a strong woman, determined to satisfy her voracious appetite for sex, drugs and music.