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Billie Holiday - The Voice of Jazz

            One of the greatest Jazz singers of all time, Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Harris on April 7, 1915. Her mother Sadie was an eighteen-year old cleaner and her father Clarence Holiday was a sixteen-year old guitarist. Her parents were not married nor did they live together and Billie's yearn for independence allowed her to quickly learn how to defend and protect herself from the dangerous streets of Baltimore, Maryland. Billie was very rough around the edges and wasn't afraid of anyone nor did she tolerate disrespect from anyone she came across. At the age of 11, Billie was raped by her neighbor one evening and although she he was sentenced to three months in prison, Billie the victim of this horrific crime, was also punished and sent to "The House of Good Shepherd for Colored Girls". But her street smart ways as well as her fiery no nonsense attitude was viewed negatively by the nuns . She even claimed that the nuns at the school forced her to sleep next to the body of young girl who had died in order to teach her lesson. In 1928, Billie and her mother Sadie moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Harlem, New York. Once the arrived to the big city, they found that the popularity of the Jazz Era had increased tremendously and had been taking over. Billie loved singing and so she would spend her time at different public and private parties where musicians like Duke Ellington would come and perform. But in order to survive in New York, Billie and her mother worked in a Brothel as prostitutes. Once caught, they both were arrested for prostitution, Billie just fourteen spent one hundred days in a work house for homeless and dissipated adults. A change of career was called for. There was a small gang of singers, dancers, and comedians who would go from club to club performing for no money and they would perform all night long. Billie would go from table to table singing the songs that she heard.

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