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Billie Holiday: A Controversial Artist!

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Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz voices ever, was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7th, 1915.  Billie, born in Philadelphia but raised in Baltimore, Maryland, did not have a pleasant childhood.  In addition, when she was born, her father was fifteen years old and her mother was only 13.  Thus, her parents got married when she was three, but soon got divorced.  For this matter, she was raised by her mother and some other relatives.  However, still a child, she started working as a prostitute in conjunction with her mother.  In this way, Holiday began to sing in some clubs in Harlem.

In 1932, the producer John Hammond met Billie in Monnette’s, a club, and introduced her to Benny Goodman.  Thus, in 1933, she recorded her first production called “Your Mother’s Son-in-Law”.  In addition, by that time, she became famous as a live dancer too.  Billie Holiday is also known because she was one of the few black jazz artists that shared with white musicians.  Besides, Holiday’s life was getting more and more difficult as time passed by since she became more dependent on drugs, alcohol and dangerous relationships.  For this reason, her music and lyrics changed dramatically from youthful to regretful.

In 1952, Billie Holiday got married to a Mafia enforcer named Louis McKay; nonetheless, Holiday freely expressed to be bisexual.  In fact, it is believed that she had an affair with Tallulah Bankhead, an actress.  In 1947, Billie was in prison for about a year and a day since she was arrested for heroin possession.  Due to this, she was forbidden to perform in clubs for the next 12 years.  On July 12, 1959, after continuing her artistic career, she was on house arrested for the same reason.  She remained under police watch until the day of her death on July 17, 1959, when she was 44 years old.  It is amazing how she died completely poor with only $0.70 in her bank account.

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