Holiday, Billie [Fagan, Eleanora; Harris, Elinore; Lady Day]
- James Lincoln Collier
[Fagan, Eleanora; Harris, Elinore; Lady Day]
(b Philadelphia, April 7, 1915; d New York, July 17, 1959). American jazz singer. Her early life is obscure, as the account given in her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, is inaccurate. Her father abandoned the family early and refused to acknowledge his daughter until after her first success. At some point in her childhood her mother moved to New York, leaving her in the care of her relatives who, according to Holiday, mistreated her. She did menial work, had little schooling, and in 1928 went to New York to join her mother. Again according to her own story she was recruited for a brothel, and was eventually jailed briefly for prostitution. At some point after 1930 she began singing at a small club in Brooklyn, and in a year or so moved to Pods’ and Jerry’s, a Harlem club well known to jazz enthusiasts. In 1933 she was working in another Harlem club, Monette’s, where she was discovered by the producer and talent scout John Hammond. Hammond immediately arranged three recording sessions for her with Benny Goodman and found engagements for her in New York clubs. In ...