Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth by John Szwed

By John Szwed

Kirkus top Books of 2015 choice for Biography •

Published in party of Holiday’s centenary, the 1st biography to target the singer’s striking musical talent

When Billie vacation stepped into Columbia’s studios in November 1933, it marked the start of what's arguably the main striking and influential occupation in twentieth-century well known tune. Her voice weathered numerous shifts in public flavor, and new reincarnations of her proceed to reach, so much lately within the kind of singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele.

Most of the writing on vacation has inquisitive about the tragic info of her life—her prostitution on the age of fourteen, her heroin dependancy and alcoholism, her sequence of abusive relationships—or attempted to right the numerous fabrications of her autobiography. yet now, Billie vacation remains as regards to the song, to her functionality kind, and to the self she created and placed into print, on checklist and on stage.

Drawing on an enormous quantity of recent fabric that has surfaced within the final decade, severely acclaimed jazz author John Szwed considers how her existence inflected her artwork, her affects, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a few her signature songs, and her legacy.

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He had a convenient case of diverticulitis. At the cop station, they were nicer than I expected, giving me a copy of my mug shots when I boldly asked. Later, I stuck them up on the caduceus. After fingerprinting, they gave us brown paper towels and put us in cells off to ourselves, a c t i v i s t hon e y mo on  segregated by gender. We swapped names, talked, tried to get the ink off our hands. Some of the girls had been arrested a bunch of times, mostly with ACT UP. They were practically connoisseurs and seemed almost disappointed the arrests had been so peaceful, and that the toilet with no seat in the corner didn’t even really stink.

The space was too enormous for a little stench to penetrate. We needed a crew of twenty and a crate of stink. We decided to go ahead anyway. I dropped a couple of glass vials on the floor, but when I stepped on them with my tennis shoes, they wouldn’t break. Melanie finally crushed them with her big Doc Martens boots. But in the big cathedral, the vials barely had the impact of a fart. We slapped a sticker on the back of a pew and left. Another Avenger cell had more impact in their attack on the rancid Jack Hale.

I’d never seen so many dykes in one place, especially African Americans and Latinas. It was like subway cars from the Bronx and Brooklyn all got tipped out in the West Village. Everybody had stories to tell. Mostly worse than mine. I was already gone from the house when I told my mother I was bi so there was a limit the damage her rejection could do. I’d been harassed and insulted on the street but never ended up in the hospital like some of these dykes, put there by random strangers. Or worse, by their families who attacked them inside their own homes.

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