April’s Diva Inspiration, Billie Holiday made her first Carnegie Hall appearance as a headliner on March 27, 1948. Mr. Divabetic looks back this jazz icon’s life and and discusses ‘milestones’ related to diabetes self-care on April’s Diabetes Late Nite podcast.
Her sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall was an amazing milestone for Billie Holiday, who was born April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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
In March 1948, Billie Holiday, who had been released from prison on a drug charge only days earlier, was performing in public for the first time in nearly a year. She was unable to get the necessary license to play in cabarets and clubs because of her conviction, however, she could still perform at concert hall venues like Carnegie Hall.
Anticipation was high for her Carnegie performance: The concert sold out a week in advance, and several hundred additional seats were added.
Although Holiday was so nervous backstage that she pricked herself while pinning a gardenia in her hair, the performance was a triumphant comeback.
According to the New York Amsterdam News, the high point was her rendition of “Strange Fruit” in the second half “with the hall in complete darkness and a single spotlight etching her face.”
While her hard living was taking a toll on her voice, Billie Holiday continued to tour and record in the 1950s. She began recording for Norman Granz, the owner of several small jazz labels, in 1952. Two years later, Holiday had a hugely successful tour of Europe.
Billie Holiday also caught the public’s attention by sharing her life story with the world in 1956. Her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues (1956), was written in collaboration by William Dufty. Some of the material included, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. Billie Holiday was in rough shape when she worked with Dufty on the project, and she claimed to have never read the book after it was finished.
We will be playing selected songs from the Billie Holiday Centennial Collection courtesy of SONY Music on April’s Diabetes Late Nite podcast scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 6-7 PM, EST. Hosted by Mr. Divabetic.
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