Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan, April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday was a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.
Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child," "Don't Explain," "Fine and Mellow," and "Lady Sings the Blues." She also became famous for singing "Easy Living," "Good Morning Heartache," and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and made famous with her 1939 recording.
In 1946, Holiday recorded one of her most covered and critically acclaimed songs, "Good Morning Heartache". The song was played in Louis Jordon's 1946 film Beware. Diana Ross' rendering of the song reached the top 40 on the pop charts in 1971. Although the song failed to chart under Holiday, it remained a staple in her live shows with three known live recordings of the song.
Holiday's late recordings on Verve constitute about a third of her commercial recorded legacy and are as popular as her earlier work for the Columbia, Commodore and Decca labels. In later years, her voice became more fragile, but it never lost the edge that had always made it so distinctive.
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