Important Moments of Billie Holiday’s Career

Billie Holiday pic
Billie Holiday

Detroit resident Odis Jones graduated with a BS in sociology from Central Michigan University. Most recently, he served as CEO for the Detroit-based Public Lighting Authority, where he managed the day-to-day affairs and operations of this public utility. To relax, Odis Jones enjoys jazz.

One of jazz music’s most influential artists was Billie Holiday. Born as Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia in 1915, she had a rough upbringing, and music became a creative escape for the young prodigy. Married at the age of 15, she eventually adopted her absent father’s last name and took the first name of “Billie” from an actor she admired, Billie Dove.

Her big break came at age 18, when a music producer named John Hammond noticed her playing at a Jazz club in Harlem. Hammond organized recordings for the young Holiday and set her up to play with up-and-coming bandleader Benny Goodman. By 1935, she appeared in a movie with Duke Ellington.

Two years later, she was touring with the Count Basie Orchestra. Holiday went on to record many hits, and eventually struck out on her own. Unfortunately, her personal life did not match her career, and she was plagued with substance-abuse problems later in life, eventually spending time in jail. She passed away in 1959 from alcohol- and drug-related problems.

She eventually told her story in her autobiography, co-written with William Dufty, tiled Lady Sings the Blues, published in 1956. It was made into a movie in 1972 starring Diana Ross.


A Brief History of Jazz Music

Jazz Music pic
Jazz Music

Odis Jones of Detroit oversees operations at MVP Capital Ventures as managing partner. In the course of his career as a public finance and development leader, he has managed over 30,000 public garages, parking lot spaces, and parking meters and been featured in numerous industry publications. In his free time, Odis Jones of Detroit enjoys listening to jazz music.

Jazz developed in New Orleans during the early 20th century, born from blues music and the celebratory spirit of New Orleans at the time. Before the genre was created, musicians in New Orleans filled the city streets with brass-band, blues, and ragtime tunes. Around the late 1800s, brass bands were the norm around New Orleans. Most bands played a mix of ragtime, blues, and traditional dance music–a unique combination that echoed the melting-pot nature of the city.

Over time, African American folk and slave songs paved the way for the creation of jazz, as existing bands began highlighting individuals who were extremely talented at making music. While the genre’s most important innovators were African American, the music brought together all ethnic groups. It adopted its rhythm, expression, and blues quality from traditional African music and got its harmony and instruments from European music. Unlike blues music, which was performed only by African American musicians, jazz was performed by all ethnic groups.

As it moved into the 1910s, jazz began taking off. Its often upbeat tunes encouraged listeners to dance, and it spread outside of New Orleans to such areas as Chicago and New York City. Despite its growing popularity, it wasn’t until the 1920s that musicians began identifying themselves as jazz musicians and the phrase “jazz music” came into common use.