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Billie Holiday Style

Lady Sings the...

TV / Film / Documentaries

Billie The Songwriter

Signature Songs

Song Title Writer(s)
A Fine Romance Fields/Kern
A Foggy Day Gershwin/Gershwin
A Sailboat In The Moonlight Loeb/Lombardo
A Sunbonnet Blue (And A Yellow Straw Hat) Fain/Kahal
A Yiddish Momme Pollack/Yellen
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (I’m Savin’ My Love For You) Brooks/Razaf/Waller
Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do Grainger/Robbins
All Of Me Marks/Simons
All Of You Porter
All Or Nothing At All Altman/Lawrence
All The Way Cahn/VanHeusen
Always Berlin
Am I Blue? Akst/Clarke
Any Old Time Artie Shaw
April In My Heart Carmichael/Meinard
April In Paris Duke/Harburg
As Time Goes By Herman Hupfeld
Autumn In New York Duke
Song Title Writer(s)
Baby Get Lost Feather
Baby, I Don’t Cry Over You Krouse
Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home Warfield/Williams
Back In Your Own Backyard Dreyer/Jolson/Rose
Be Fair To Me Baby Darnell/Mesner
Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out The Barrel) Brown/Timm/Vejvoda
Big Stuff Bernstein
Billie’s Blues (I Love My Man) Holiday
Billie’s Blues (Instrumental) Holiday
Blue Moon Hart/Rodgers
Blue Turning Grey Over You Razaf/Waller
Body And Soul Eyton/Green/Heyman/Sour
Born To Love Jerome/Scholl
But Beautiful Johnny Burke / James Van Heusen
But Not For Me
Song Title Writer(s)
Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man Hammerstein/Kern
Carelessly Ellis/Kenny/Kenny
Cheek To Cheek Berlin
Come Rain Or Come Shine Arlen/Mercer
Comes Love Brown/Stept/Tobias
Crazy He Calls Me Russell/Sigman
Song Title Writer(s)
‘Deed I Do Hirsch/Rose
Darn That Dream De Lange/Van Heusen
Day In, Day Out Bloom/Mercer
Deep Song Cory/Cross
Detour Ahead Frigo/Carter/Ellis
Did I Remember? Adamson/Donaldson
Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me Ellington/Russell
Do You Know What It Means (To Miss New Orleans) Alter/DeLange
Do Your Duty Wilson
Don’t Explain Herzog/Holiday
Don’t Worry ’bout Me Bloom/Koehler
Dream Of Life Henderson/McRae
Song Title Writer(s)
East Of The Sun Bowman
Easy Living Ranger/Robin
Easy To Love Porter
Easy To Remember Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers
Eeny Meeny Miney Mo Johnny Mercer / Matty Malneck
Embraceable You Gershwin/Gershwin
Everybody’s Laughing Lerner/Oakland
Everything Happens For The Best Holiday/Smith
Everything Happens To Me Adair/Dennis
Everything I Have Is Yours Adamson/Lane
Song Title Writer(s)
Falling In Love Again Hollander/Lerner
Fanfare From Oh, Lady Be Good
Farewell To Storyville Williams/Williams
Fine And Mellow Holiday
Foolin’ Myself Lawrence/Tinturin
For All We Know Sam M. Lewis / J. Fred Coots
For Heaven’s Sake Don Meyer / Elsie Bretton / Sherman Edwards
Forget If You Can Joy/Manus/Upham
Song Title Writer(s)
(I Don’t Stand A) Ghost Of A Chance Crosby/Washington/Young
Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You? Razaf/Redman
Georgia On My Mind Carmichael/Gorrell
Getting Some Fun Out Of Life Burke/Leslie
Ghost Of Yesterday Herzog/Kitchings
Gimmie A Pigfoot (And A Bottle Of Beer) Wilson
Girls Were Made To Take Care Of Boys Blane
Glad To Be Unhappy Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers
Gloomy Sunday Lewis/Seress
God Bless The Child Herzog/Holiday
Gone With The Wind Magidson/Wrubel
Good Morning Heartache Drake/Fisher/Higginbotham
Guess Who? Freed/Lane
Guilty Akst/Kahn/Whiting
Song Title Writer(s)
Having Myself A Time Ranger/Robin
He Ain’t Got Rhythm Berlin
He’s Funny That Way Richard A. Whiting / Neil Moret
Hello, My Darling Hollander/Loesser
Here It Is Tomorrow Again Gibbons/Ringwald
How Am I To Know? Jack King / Dorothy Parker
How Could You? Dubin/Warren
How Deep Is The Ocean? Berlin
Song Title Writer(s)
I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me Gaskill/McHugh
I Can’t Face The Music Bloom/Koehler
I Can’t Get Started Duke/Gershwin
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love (Baby) Fields/McHugh
I Can’t Pretend Breuder/Rusincky/Tobias
I Cover The Waterfront Green/Heyman
I Cried For You Arnheim/Freed/Lyman
I Didn’t Know What Time It Was Hart/Rodgers
I Don’t Know If I’m Coming Or Going Fien/Wainer
I Don’t Want To Cry Anymore Schertzinger
I Get A Kick Out Of You Porter
I Get Along Without You Very Well Carmichael
I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) Ellington/Webster
I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues Arlen/Koehler
I Hadn’t Anyone Till You Noble
I Hear Music Lane/Loesser
I Must Have That Man Fields/McHugh
I Only Have Eyes For You Dubin/Warren
I Thought About You Mercer/VanHeusen
I Wish I Had You Green/Stillman/Thornhill
I Wished On The Moon Parker/Ranger
I Won’t Believe It Martin Block/Robinson/Selsman
I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone Johnson
I’ll Be Around Alex Wilder
I’ll Be Seeing You Sammy Fain / Irving Kahal
I’ll Get By Ahlert/Turk
I’ll Look Around Cory/Cross
I’ll Never Be The Same Kahn/Maineck/Signorelli
I’ll Never Fail You Mizzy/Taylor
I’ll Never Smile Again Lowe
I’m A Fool To Want You J. Wolf / Herron / Sinatra
I’m All For You Bresler/Wynn
I’m Gonna Lock My Heart (And Throw Away The Key) Eaton/Shand
I’m In A Low Down Groove Jacobs
I’m Painting The Town Red Tobias/Newman/Stept
I’m Pulling Through Herzog/Kitchings
I’m Walkin’ Through Heaven With You Gordon/Turner
I’m Yours Johnny Green / E.Y. Harburg
I’ve Got A Date With A Dream Gordon/Revel
I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm Berlin
If Dreams Come True Goodman/Mills/Sampson
If I Were You Bernier/Emmerich
If My Heart Could Only Talk Powell/Samuels/Whitcup
If The Moon Turns Green Coates/Hanighen
If You Were Mine Johnny Mercer / Matty Malneck
Ill Wind Arlen/Koehler
Isn’t This A Lovely Day Berlin
Israel Herzog/Scott
It Had To Be You Jones/Kahn
It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie Mayhew
It’s Easy To Blame The Weather Cahn/Chaplin
It’s Like Reaching For The Moon Lewis/Marqusee/Sherman
It’s Not For Me To Say Allen/Stillman
It’s Too Hot For Words Samuels/Whitcup/Powell
Song Title Writer(s)
Jeepers Creepers Mercer/Warren
Jim Petrillo/Ross/Shawn
Johnny Mercer Announcement N.A.
Just Friends Klenner/Lewis
Just One More Chance Coslow/Johnson
Just One Of Those Things Porter
Song Title Writer(s)
Keeps On Rainin’ Kortlander/Williams
Song Title Writer(s)
Lady Sings The Blues Holiday/Nichols
Lady’s Back In Town Scott
Laughing At Life Kenny/Kenny/Todd/Todd
Let’s Call A Heart A Heart Burke/Johnston
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off Gershwin/Gershwin
Let’s Do It Porter
Let’s Dream In The Moonlight Malneck/Walsh
Life Begins When You’re In Love Brown/Schertzinger
Long Gone Blues Holiday
Love For Sale Porter
Love Me Or Leave Me Donaldson/Kahn
Loveless Love Handy
Lover Come Back To Me Romberg/Hammerstein
Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?) Davis/Ramirez/Sherman
Song Title Writer(s)
Mandy Is Two McGrath/Mercer
Maybe You’ll Be There Bloom/GAllop
Me, Myself And I (Are All In Love With You) Gordon/Kaufman/Roberts
Mean To Me Ahlert/Turk
Misery Scott
Miss Brown To You Ranger/Robin/Whiting
Moanin’ Low Deitz/Rainger
Moonglow De Lange/Hudson/Mills
Moonlight In Vermont Blackburn/Suessdorf & Blackburn
More Than You Know Eliscu/Rose/Youman
My First Impression Of You Stept/Tobias
My Funny Valentine
My Man Charles/Pollack/Williametz/Yvain
My Old Flame Arthur Johnson / Sam Coslow
My Sweet Hunk O’trash Johnson/Miller
Song Title Writer(s)
(You Ain’t Gonna Bother Me) No More Camarata/Russell
Nice Work If You Can Get It Gershwin/Gershwin
Night And Day Porter
No Good Man Fisher/GAllop/Higginbotham
No Regrets Ingraham/Tobias
Norman Granz Announcement N.A.
Now Or Never Holiday/Lewis
Now They Call It Swing Deleath/Hirsch
Song Title Writer(s)
Ole Miss (Instrumental) Handy
On The Sentimental Side Burke/Monaco
On The Sunny Side Of The Street Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh
One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) Arlen/Mercer
One Never Knows – Does One? Gordon/Revell
One, Two, Button Your Shoe Burke/Johnston
Our Love Is Different Clinton/Bernier
Our Love Is Here To Stay
Song Title Writer(s)
(I Love You) Porgy Gershwin/Gershwin/Heyward
P.S. I Love You Jenkins/Mercer
Pennies From Heaven Burke/Johnson
Please Keep Me In Your Dreams Lawnhurst/Seymour
Please Tell Me Now Clawson/Pope
Please, Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone Clare/Palmer/Stept
Practice Makes Perfect Gold/Roberts
Prelude To A Kiss Ellington/Irving Gordon/Mills
Song Title Writer(s)
Remember Berlin
Restless Coslow/Satterfield
Riffin’ The Scotch Goodman-Buck-McDonough
Rocky Mountain Blues Heywoo/Tucker
Romance In The Dark Coslow/Neisen
Song Title Writer(s)
Saddest Tale Ellington
Say It Isn’t So Berlin
Say It With A Kiss Mercer/Warren
Says My Heart Lane/Loesser
Sentimental & Melancholy Mercer/Whiting
Softly Beal/Greene
Solitude DeLange/Ellington/Mills
Some Of These Days Brooks
Some Other Spring Wilson/Herzog
Somebody’s On My Mind Herzog/Holiday
Sometimes I’m Happy Caesar/Grey/Youman
Sophisticated Lady Ellington/Mills/Parish
Speak Low Nash/Weill
Spreadin’ The Rhythm Around Koehler/McHugh
Squeeze Me
St. Louis Blues Handy
Stars Fell On Alabama Parish/Perkins
Stormy Blues Holiday
Stormy Weather Arlen/Koehler
Strange Fruit Allan/Marks
Sugar (That Sugar Baby O’ Mine) Alexander/Mitchell/Pinkard
Summertime Gershwin/Gershwin/Heyward
Sun Showers Brown/Freed
Swing, Brother Swing Bishop/Raymond/Williams
Song Title Writer(s)
Tell Me More And More (And Then Some) Holiday
Tenderly Gross/Lawrence
That Ole Devil Called Love Fisher/Roberts
That’s All I Ask Of You Pope
That’s Life I Guess DeRose/Lewis
The Blues Are Brewin’ Alter/DeLange
The End Of A Love Affair Edward C. Redding
The Man I Love Gershwin/Gershwin
The Mood That I’m In Sherman/Silver
The Moon Looks Down And Laughs Kalmar/Ruby/Silvers
The Nearness Of You Carmichael/Washington
The Same Old Story Field/Oliphant
The Very Thought Of You Noble
The Way You Look Tonight Dorothy Fields / Jerome Kern
Them There Eyes Pinkard/Tauber/William Tracey
There Is No Greater Love Jones/Symes
There’ll Be Some Changes Made Higgins/Overstreet
These ‘n’ That ‘n’ Those Fairchild/Pascal
These Foolish Things Marvell/Strachey/Walker
They Can’t Take That Away From Me Gershwin/Gershwin
They Say Heyman/Weiss
Things Are Looking Up Gershwin/Gershwin
This Is Heaven To Me Reardon/Schweikert
This Year’s Kisses Berlin
Time On My Hands Adamson/Gordon/Youman
Too Marvelous For Words Mercer/Whiting
Trav’lin’ All Alone Johnson
Trav’lin’ Light Mercer/Young
Trav’lin’ Light, With Reading From ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ Mercer/Young
Twenty-Four Hours A Day Arthur Swanstrom / Hanley
Song Title Writer(s)
Under A Blue Jungle Moon Brisben/Conway
Underneath The Stars
Until The Real Thing Comes Along Chaplin/Holiner/Kahn/Nichols
Song Title Writer(s)
Violets For Your Furs Tom Adair / Matt Dennis
Song Title Writer(s)
We’ll Be Together Again Fischer/Laine
Weep No More Adair/Jenkins
What A Little Moonlight Can Do Woods
What A Night, What A Moon, What A Girl Loeb
What Is This Going To Get Us? Herzog/Kitchings
What Is This Thing Called Love? Porter
What Shall I Say? Tinturin
What’s New? Burke/Haggart
When A Woman Loves A Man Hanighen/Jenkins/Mercer
When It’s Sleepy Time Down South Clarence Muse/Otis/Rene
When You Are Away, Dear Blossom/Herbert
When You’re Smiling Fisher/Goodwin/Shay
When Your Lover Has Gone Swan
Where Is The Sun? David/Redmond
Wherever You Are Friend/Tobias
Who Loves You? Coots/Davis
Who Wants Love? Kahn/Waxman
Why Did I Always Depend On You? Greenwood/McRae/Smith
Why Was I Born? Hammerstein/Kern
Willis Conover Announcement N.A.
Willow Weep For Me Ronell
With Thee I Swing Adlam/Hyde/Stillman
Without Your Love Lange/Stryker
Song Title Writer(s)
Yankee Doodle Never Went To Town Arthur Freed / Bernie Hanighan
Yesterdays Kern/Harbach
You Better Go Now Graham/Reichner
You Can’t Be Mine (And Someone Else’s Too) Johnson/Webb
You Can’t Lose A Broken Heart Johnson/Miller
You Don’t Know What Love Is Don Raye / Gene DePaul
You Go To My Head Coots/Gillespie
You Gotta Show Me
You Let Me Down Dubin/Warren
You Showed Me The Way Fitzgerald/Green/McRae/Webb
You Took Advantage Of Me Hart/Rodgers
You Turned The Tables On Me Alter/Mitchell
You’re A Lucky Guy Cahn/Chaplin
You’re Driving Me Crazy Donaldson
You’re Gonna See A Lot Of Me Curtis/Goodhard/Hoffman
You’re Just A No Account Cahn/Chaplin
You’re My Thrill Clare/Gorney
You’re So Desirable Noble
You’re Too Lovely To Last Beal/Fraser/McRae
You’ve Changed Bill Carey / Carl Fischer
Your Mother’s Son-In-Law Holiner/Nichols
Yours And Mine Brown/Freed

Critically Acclaimed Albums

Books & Documentaries

The following is a comprehensive list of Billie Holiday in the printed word, courtesy of writer/broadcaster Ian Clayton.


Billie Holiday with William Dufty, (1956) Lady Sings the Blues; Doubleday.
The notorious autobiography on which the film of the same name is loosely based.

John Szwed, (2016) Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth Paperback; Penguin Books.
Offers a portrait of Lady Day as artist and mythmaker rather than tragic victim.

John Chilton, (1975) Billie’s Blues; Quartet.
Well researched hard facts about Billie’s recording career.

Chris Ingham, (2000) Billie Holiday; Unanimous.
An entry in the “Diva’s” series.

David Margolick, (2000) Strange Fruit; Running Press.
The impact of “Café Society and an early cry for human rights.

Bud Kliment, (1990) Billie Holiday-Singer; Chelsea House.
Black Americans of achievment series.

Leslie Gourse, (1997) Billie Holiday Companion; Schirmer.
Compilation of various, mostly hard to find writings on Billie.

John White, (1987) Billie Holiday; Spellmount.
Larger format book in “Jazz Lifetimes” series.

Leslie Gourse, (1995) Billie Holiday; Franklin Watts.
The tragedy and triumph of Lady Day.

Stuart Nicholson, (1995) Billie Holiday; Victor Gollancz.
A model of biographical writing, much previously unknown material.

Michel Fontanes, (1999) Billie et Paris; Editions Rive Droite.
Thoroughly researched chronicle of Billies time in Paris 1954 and 1958. English translation available.

Marc-Edouard Nabe, (1986) L‘âme de Billie Holiday; L’infini Denoël.
Novel, not published in English.

Farah Jasmin Griffin, (2001) If You Can’t Be Free, Be A Mystery; The Free Press.
A groundbreaking study that confronts the myths.

Robert O’Meally, (1991) Lady Day, The Many Faces of Billie Holiday; Arcade.
Superbly illustrated; scholarly and enlightened.

Donald Clarke, (1994) Wishing On the Moon; Viking Penguin.
A near definite account.

Burnett James, (1984) Billie Holiday; Spellmount/Hippocrene.
Small Format, An introduction in the Jazz Masters series.

Melvin Maddocks, (1979) Billie Holiday (Giants of Jazz); Time Life.
Biography to accompany a Time Life record set.

Ken Vail, (1996) Lady Day’s Diary; Castle.
A month by month Chronology of Lady’s career.

Paola Boncompagni, (1992) Lady Day Life and Songs; Nuovi Equilibri.
Small format book to accompany mini CD from Italy.

Julia Blackburn, (2005) With Billie; Jonathan Cape.
A well constructed book, uses interviews undertaken by Linda Kuehl in the 1970’s.

Magdalena Alagna, (2003) Billie Holiday; Rosen.
An entry in the “rock and roll hall of famers” series, introduction for teenagers.

Alain Gerber, (2005) Lady Day, Histoires d’Amour; Fayard.
A novel about Billie in French.

Danièle Robert, (1995) Les Chants de l’Aube de Lady Day; Le Temps Qu’Il Faut.
A novel about Billie’s life in French.

Sylvia Fol, (2006) Billie Holiday; Folio.
A complete book in French of Billie’s life with several insights on Billie’s ambiguous sexuality.


Gary Giddins, (1992) Faces In the Crowd; Oxford University Press.
A fine collection of essays and criticism.

Eric Hobsbawm, (1998) Uncommon People, Rebellion and Jazz; Wiedenfield and Nicholson.
Includes an obituary of Billie.

Françoise Sagan, (1984) Avec Mon Meilleur Souvenir; Folio.
In english “With Fondest Regards” (1998) Alison and Busby, affectionate and candid tribute.

Angela Y. Davies, (1999) Blues Legacies, Black Feminism; Vintage.
Scholarly research into the sociology of blues and jazz from female standpoint.

Robyn Archer & Diane Symonds, (1986) A Star is Torn; Virago.
An anthology of various women singers, part of a stageshow.

Burnett James, (1964) Essays on Jazz; Jazz Book Club.
An essay called “Billie Holiday and the Art of Communication.”

Bennu Green, (1964) The Reluctant Art; Jazz Book Club.
A forty page essay called “Billie Holiday.”

Martin T. Williams, (1962) The Art of Jazz; Jazz Book Club.
Essay entitled “Billie Holiday” by Glen Coulter.

Martin T. Williams, (1965) Jazz Panorama; Jazz Book Club.
Another essay by Glen Coulter, reviewing Billie records.

Leonard Feather, (1974) From Satchmo to Miles; Stein and Day.
Personal stories from the great jazz writer.

Martin Williams, (1983) The Jazz Tradition; Oxford Univ. Press.
An essay entitled: “Actress without an act.”

Max Jones, (1987) Talking Jazz; McMillan Press.
Adventures involving the writer and Billie on tour in England 1954.

Roy Carr, (1999) Jazz Singers; Hamlyn.
Glossy, large format introduction to jazz vocalists.

Francis Davis, (1990) Outcats; Oxford Univ. Press.
Essays on jazz people including “The Man Who Danced with Billie Holiday.”

Will Friedwald, (1991) Jazz Singing; Quartet.
Superb book, essay called “Lady Day and Lady Time.”

Hettie Jones, (1974) Big Star Fallin’ Mama; Viking.
Warm portraits of five singers including Billie.

Henry Pleasants, (1974) The Great American Popular Singers; Victor Gollancz.
A wonderful survey of vocal art.

Kitty Grime, (1983) Jazz Voices; Quartet.
A patchwork of interviews with jazz people, a chapter about Billie.

Studs Terkel, (1957) Giants of Jazz; The New Press.
A series of beautifully observed portraits, chapter on Billie “God Bless The Child.”

Carol Boston, (2009) Becoming Billie Holiday; Weatherford.
Award-winning poet and professor excellent book—a fictional verse memoir.


John Hammond with Irving Townsend, (1981) John Hammond on Record; Penguin.
Autobiography of the jazz buff and record company man.

Maya Angelou, (1986) The Heart of a Woman; Virago.
Fourth volume of the great black writer’s autobiography.

Jeremy Reed, (1999) Angels Divas and Black Listed Heroes; Peter Owen.
A challenging series of essays by poet and novelist.

Leslie Gourse, (1995) Madame Jazz; Oxford Univ. Press.
The history of women in Jazz.

Sally Placksin, (1985) Jazz Women, 1900 to the Present; Pluto.
Words, lives and music of nearly a century of jazz women.

Leslie Gourse, (1984) Louis’ Children American Jazz Singers; Quill.
A comprehensive overview of the Louis Armstrong legacy.

Harry Shapiro, (1988) Waiting for the Man; Quartet.
Drugs and their links to popular music.

Arnold Shaw, (1977) 52nd Street, The Street of Jazz; Da Capo.
Originally published as “The Street That Never Slept,” a slice of jazz nightlife.

Buck Clayton, (1986) Buck Clayton’s Jazz World; McMillan.
Story of the great trumpeter and Billie accompanist.

Ted Fox, (1985) Show Time at the Apollo; Quartet.
A survey of 50 years of the great Harlem theatre.

William P. Gottleib, (1995) The Golden Age of Jazz; Pomegranate.
A nostalgic look back to the 1930’s and 40’s.

Charles Fox & Valerie Wilmer, (1971) The Jazz Scene; Hamlyn.
A nicely illustrated overview.

Joachim Berendt, (1984) The Jazz Book (Revised Edition); Paladin.
One of the truly great jazz histories.

Geoffrey C. Ward & Ken Burns, (2000) Jazz, A History of America’s Music; Pimlico.
Excellent research, beautifully illustrated tie in to TV series.

Teddy Wilson, A. Lightart, H. Van Loo, (1996) Teddy Wilson Talks Jazz; Cassell.
A candid account account of Wilson’s life and career.

Arnold Shaw, (1986) Black Popular Music in America; Schirmer.
Comprehensive and well researched.

John Chilton, (1979) Jazz; Hodder and Stoughton.
Intro to history and practice of jazz music, best of this type.

Whitney Balliet, (1964) Dinosaurs in the Morning; J. Dent.
Essays by the New York Times Jazz critic.

Stanley Dance, (1974) The World of Swing; Scribners.
A chronicle of the big band era.

Philip Larkin, (1970) All What Jazz; Faber.
Criticism and record reviews by famous English poet.

Cynthia Palmer & Michael Horowitz, (2000) Sisters of the Extreme; Park St. Press.
Women writing about their drug experience.


Alice Adams, (1984) Listening to Billie; Penguin.
A beautiful novel that starts in a 1950’s Manhattan night- club.

John Wieners, (1996) 707 Scott St.; Sun and Moon.
Poetry and prose dedicated to Billie.

Anne Grifalconi, (1999) Tinny’s Hat; Harper Collins.
For children, a young girl wears her musician father’s hat.

Robert Somma, (1973) No One Waved Goodbye; Charisma.
Includes the poem “The Day Lady Day Died (Lunch Poems 1963).

Alexis De Veaux, (1988) Don’t Explain; Writers and Readers.
A prose poem in tribute to Billie.

Carlos Sampayo & Jose Munoz, (1993) Billie Holiday; Fantagraphics Books.
Imaginative stuff, a graphic novel.

Elisabeth Hardwick, (1979) Sleepless Nights; Random House.
A stunning novel, taking in memory, affection and Billie Holiday in Harlem.

Jeremy Reed, (2001) Saint Billie; Enitharmon Press.
An anthology that captures the drama of Billie’s life and the jazz age.


Billie is of course mentioned in every reference work on jazz. Following are strongly recommended.
Leonard Feather, (1960) The Encyclopeadia of Jazz; Arthur Baker.
One of the first in the field and still very reliable.

John Chilton, (1970) Who’s Who of Jazz; Bloomsbury.
Obsessively comprehensive.

David Meeker, (1981) Jazz in the Movies; Talisman.
Indispensable guide to jazz on film, includes all of Billie appearances plus TV.

John Fordham, (1993) Jazz; Dorling Kindersley.
History, instruments, musicians, recordings, a connoisseur’s book.

Ian Carr, D. Fairweather, B. Priestlet, (1987) Jazz Essential Companion; Grafton.
Homage to jazz musicians everywhere.

Richard Cook, Brian Morton, (1992) Pengin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP and Cassette; Penguin.
Definitive reference work with criticism of all available recordings.

Roy Carr, (1998) A Century of Jazz; Hamlyn.
Beautifully illustrated celebration of jazz history.

Brian Case, S. Britt, C. Murray, (1986) Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz; Salamender.
For the buff or the new fan.

Barry MaCraae, (1987) The Jazz Handbook; Longman.
Practical, easy to use and insightful.


Jorgen Grunnet Jepsen, (1969) Discography of Billie Holiday; Knudsen (Denmark).
Small, home published discography.

Jack Millar, (1979) Born to Swing; JazzMedia (Denmark).
A model for all discographical writing. Updated by Jack Millar until his death in 1999.

Billie's Storyville

Billie Holiday was a true artist of her day and rose as a social phenomenon in the 1950s. Her soulful, unique singing voice and her ability to boldly turn any material that she confronted into her own music made her a superstar of her time. Today, Holiday is remembered for her masterpieces, creativity and vivacity, as many of Holiday’s songs are as well known today as they were decades ago. Holiday’s poignant voice is still considered to be one of the greatest jazz voices of all time.

Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan) grew up in jazz talent-rich Baltimore in the 1920s. As a young teenager, Holiday served the beginning part of her so-called “apprenticeship” by singing along with records by Bessie Smith or Louis Armstrong in after-hours jazz clubs. When Holiday’s mother, Sadie Fagan, moved to New York in search of a better job, Billie eventually went with her. She made her true singing debut in obscure Harlem nightclubs and borrowed her professional name – Billie Holiday – from screen star Billie Dove. Although she never underwent any technical training and never even so much as learned how to read music, Holiday quickly became an active participant in what was then one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the country. She would move from one club to another, working for tips. She would sometimes sing with the accompaniment of a house piano player while other times she would work as part of a group of performers.

At the age of 18 and after gaining more experience than most adult musicians can claim, Holiday was spotted by John Hammond and cut her first record as part of a studio group led by Benny Goodman, who was then just on the verge of public prominence. In 1935 Holiday’s career got a big push when she recorded four sides that went on to become hits, including “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Miss Brown to You.” This landed her a recording contract of her own, and then, until 1942, she recorded a number of master tracks that would ultimately become an important building block of early American jazz music.

Holiday began working with Lester Young in 1936, who pegged her with her now-famous nickname of “Lady Day.” When Holiday joined Count Basie in 1937 and then Artie Shaw in 1938, she became one of the very first black women to work with a white orchestra, an impressive accomplishment of her time.

In the 1930s, when Holiday was working with Columbia Records, she was first introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit,” an emotional piece about the lynching of a black man. Though Columbia would not allow her to record the piece due to subject matter, Holiday went on to record the song with an alternate label, Commodore, and the song eventually became one of Holiday’s classics. It was “Strange Fruit” that eventually prompted Lady Day to continue more of her signature, moving ballads.

Holiday recorded about 100 new recordings on another label, Verve, from 1952 to 1959. Her voice became more rugged and vulnerable on these tracks than earlier in her career. During this period, she toured Europe, and made her final studio recordings for the MGM label in March of 1959.

Despite her lack of technical training, Holiday’s unique diction, inimitable phrasing and acute dramatic intensity made her the outstanding jazz singer of her day. White gardenias, worn in her hair, became her trademark. “Singing songs like the ‘The Man I Love’ or ‘Porgy’ is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I’ve lived songs like that.”

Billie Holiday, a musical legend still popular today, died an untimely death at the age of 44. Her emotive voice, innovative techniques and touching songs will forever be remembered and enjoyed.

Fast Facts

Birth name: Eleanora Fagan Gough

Name change: Changed her name to “Billie Holiday” because of her admiration for film star “Billie Dove.” She was also known as “Lady Day.”

Occupation: Legendary jazz singer

Born April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died July 17, 1959 in New York City, New York

Buried at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in Bronx County, NY

Famous Tagline: “Lady Sings the Blues”

Height: 5’5″

Hair color: Black

Eye color: Brown

The U2 song Angel of Harlem paid tribute to Holiday.

On September 18, 1994, the United States Postal Service honored Holiday by introducing a USPS-sponsored stamp.

She was discovered by John Hammond

A statue of Holiday still stands today at the corner of Lafayette and Pennsylvania Avenues in Baltimore.

As Times Goes By


– April 7, Born in Philadelphia, Penn.


– Holiday appears in various Harlem clubs with singer Laurence Jackson


– Holiday cuts her first records at the age of 18
– Discovered by talent agent John Hammond
– Hammond organizes her first commercial recording session with Benny Goodman


– Signed to Brunswick Records by John Hammond
– Begins collaborations with Teddy Wilson
– Stars alongside Duke Ellington in the film “Symphony in Black”


– Releases “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess”


– Receives the nickname “Lady Day” from sax player Lester Young
– She teams with the Count Basie Orchestra


– She teams with Artie Shaw becoming the first black woman to work with a white orchestra


– Debut performance of “Strange Fruit” at Café Society, New York’s first integrated nightclub
– Records her first major session at Commodore


– Billie co-writes and records the legendary “God Bless The Child”


– Holiday signs with Decca Records


– “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)”, written specifically for Billie, becomes her highest charted Pop hit to date, peaking at #16.
– Billie Holiday writes and records “Don’t Explain”
– Esquire Magazine Gold Award for Best Leading Female Vocalist


– Esquire Magazine Silver Award for Best Leading Female Vocalist


– Esquire Magazine Silver Award for Best Leading Female Vocalist
– Headlines New York’s Town Hall


– Esquire Magazine Gold Award for Best Leading Female Vocalist
– Appears in the UA film “New Orleans” along side Louis Armstrong


– Performs at Carnegie Hall to a sold out crowd
– The Broadway show “Holiday on Broadway” begins a three week run


– “Crazy He Calls Me” single is released


– Appears in the short film “Sugar Chile Robinson, Billie Holiday, Count Basie and His Sextet”


– Her first two long play studio albums are released for Norman Granz’s Clef Records, “Billie Holiday Sings” and “An Evening with Billie Holiday”


– Appears on the ABC reality series “The Comeback Story”


– Billie releases her next full length album, “Billie Holiday”, for Clef Records
– She tours Europe


– Her full length album, “Music for Torching”, is released for Clef Records
– Make her first appearance on The Tonight Show, hosted by Steve Allen


– Her “Velvet Mood: Songs By Billie Holiday” album is released
– “Lady Sings The Blues” marks the last album for Clef Records
– Her autobiography, “Lady Sings The Blues”, is published by Doubleday
– Performs two sold shows at Carnegie Hall


– Her “Body and Soul” and “Songs For Distingue Lovers” full length albums are released on Norman Granz’s new Verve Records


– Norman Granz releases his last records with Billie, “Stay With Me” and “All or Nothing At All”
– Working with the Ray Ellis Orchestra, Billie makes her album debut on Columbia Records with “Lady In Satin”


– Holiday completes her final album, “Billie Holiday”, retitled “Last Recordings” with MGM
– Holiday gives her final performance in New York City.
– July 17, Holiday dies in New York City and is buried at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in Bronx County, NY.


– Live recordings from her last Carnegie Hall appearance are released as “The Essential Billie Holiday”


– Nina Simone records her version of “Strange Fruit”


– Diana Ross stars as Holiday in the film “Lady Sings the Blues”


– “God Bless The Child” single inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


– “Strange Fruit” single inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


– “Billie Holiday – Giants of Jazz” wins a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album


– The city of Baltimore honors Billie Holiday with her first statue


– Billie Holiday is posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award


– U2 releases the Billie Holiday tribute song “Angel of Harlem”


– “Love Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” single inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


– Miki Howard stars as Billie Holiday in a club scene in “Malcolm X”
– “Billie Holiday – The Complete Decca Recordings” wins a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album


– Etta James receives first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for her “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday” album
– “The Complete Billie Holiday” wins a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album
– On September 18, 1994, the United States Postal Service honored Holiday by introducing a USPS-sponsored stamp


– Inducted into the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame


– Ranked #6 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Women In Rock n’ Roll”
– Time Magazine declares “Strange Fruit” the Song of the Century


– Billie Holiday is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fifteenth annual induction dinner. Diana Ross is her presenter.
– “Lady In Satin” album inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


– “Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday” wins a Grammy Award for Best Historical Album
– “Strange Fruit” honored by the Library of Congress as one of the 50 songs that year to be added to the National Recording Registry


– Billie Holiday is inducted into the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame


– “Embraceable You” single inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


– “Crazy He Calls Me” single inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame


– Billie Holiday inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


– Kanye West samples Nina Simone’s version of “Strange Fruit”
– “Lady Day The Musical” opens for preview performances at Times Square’s Little Shubert Theatre starring multiple-Grammy Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater


– April 6th, Billie is inducted into The Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame. Two-time Grammy winner Cassandra Wilson presents the plaque as Lady Day joins other legends including Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown and Louis Armstrong.



– June 15: Author John Szwed wins Jazz Journalists Association “2016 Jazz Book of the Year” for Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth (Viking/Penguin Publishing Company)

Quotes from a Lady

In addition to her music, Billie Holiday left behind memorable quotes that still resonate today. Click here to see them all and easily share them with your friends.


My Old Flames

Here are more sites dedicated to Bille Holiday, lovingly compiled with a vast wealth of information that applies to her life. We thank them for their devotion (and for their great taste in music too).

Sony Legacy Recordings
Verve Music Group
Billie Holiday Songs – A site dedicated to Billie Holiday’s Songs and Discography
Billie Holiday Discography
The Unofficial Billie Holiday Website
SoulWalking’s Billie Holiday Page
Billie Holiday For Ever


This site is maintained by the Estate of Billie Holiday. Please submit questions or licensing requests for the commercial use of her image and likeness via the email links below.

© Concord Music.

Site by Tekspacular & Color Of Thunder

In accordance with the generous wishes of William Gottlieb, the photographs in the William P. Gottlieb Collection entered into the public domain on February 16, 2010.



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