"Lady Sings the Blues" is the fiercely honest, no-holds-barred autobiography of Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz, swing, and standards singing sensation. Taking the reader on a fast-moving journey from Holiday's rough-and-tumble Baltimore childhood (where she ran errands at a whorehouse in exchange for the chance to listen to Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith albums), to her emergence on Harlem's club scene, to sold-out performances with the Count Basie Orchestra and with Artie Shaw and his band, this revelatory memoir is notable for its trenchant observations on the racism that darkened Billie's life and the heroin addiction that ended it too soon. We are with her during the mesmerizing debut of "Strange Fruit"; with her as she rubs shoulders with the biggest movie stars and musicians of the day (Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and more); and with her through the scrapes with Jim Crow, spats with Sarah Vaughan, ignominious jailings, and tragic decline. All of this is told in Holiday's tart, streetwise style and hip patois that makes it read as if it were written yesterday.
About the Author
Billie Holiday is one of the most famous jazz singers of all time. She was born Eleanora Fagan Gough in 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland, but changed her name to Billie after her favorite film star, Billie Dove, and Holiday, which was her father's last name. As a child and in the beginning stages of her career, she endured many hardships but made her first recording in 1933 at the age of eighteen. She quickly rose to stardom, and six years later she introduced the world to two of her best-known songs: "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child." Billie Holiday's star burned brightly, but too briefly. She died in New York City at the age of forty-four.
Dufty is an award-winning journalist.
David Ritz is the author of the acclaimed novels The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn and Blue Notes Under a Green Felt Hat. He is the only four-time winner of the Gleason Book of the Year Award. He's also co-written the memoirs of many celebrities.