Musical Tribute To “Billie Holiday"
Nate King Cole & Bobby Womack
Starring Carolyn Walden
The gutsy Billie Holiday, fondly remembered as Lady Day, would have been 104 years old come April. Her discernible voice — sultry, mellow and strikingly melancholy — earned the “Strange Fruit” singer an indelible posthumous legacy.
Born Eleanora Fagan to a pair of poverty-stricken teenagers, her personal life was plagued with tragedy and scandal from the very start.
Her stage name, Billie Holiday, was a tribute to movie star Billie Dove and her father, jazz guitarist Clarence Holiday, who was only 15 when his daughter came into the world on April 7, 1915. Her mom, Sadie Fagan, was 13. The union didn’t last long.
Growing up, Holiday would run errands for a Baltimore brothel in exchange for a chance to listen to jazz icons Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, two legends who inspired her most. But it was ultimately desperation — not desire — that led Holiday to sing, according to her obituary in The New York Times.
Upon moving to New York, her mom fell into a debilitating depression and was unable to find work. A teenage Holiday went down to Harlem “looking for any kind of work,” the Times reported.
Both mother and daughter had ultimately turned to prostitution.