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.