MARDI 28 AVRIL 2015
LADY’S DAY A 100th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF BILLIE HOLIDAY

17-year-old Eleanora Fagan had decided she was done scrubbing floors and turning tricks to pay her mother’s rent. When an eviction notice appeared on the door, she walked to Pod’s & Jerry’s in Harlem to audition as a singer, despite having never sung a note.

She walked out Billie Holiday, the quintessential jazz vocalist who, as one biographer put it, “created the standards by which jazz singers are judged.”

Her improvisational phrasing and melancholic delivery would later inspire Frank Sinatra and Joni Mitchell to sing.

But unlike them, Billie Holiday didn’t choose to sing. She sang because she had to. Life left her no choice.