Billie Holiday

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About Billie Holiday

Born Eleanora Fagan, Billie Holiday took her stage name from actress Billie Dove and her father, musician Clarence Holiday. ∙ As a teenager in the early ’30s, Holiday honed her singing talents in Harlem nightclubs. ∙ Her recorded singing debut came on two songs released by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, one of which, “Riffin’ the Scotch,” became a 1934 hit. ∙ In the late ’30s, she sang for big bands led by Count Basie and Artie Shaw. ∙ Released in 1939, her iconic protest song “Strange Fruit” sold more than 1 million copies and became Holiday’s best-known work. ∙ On Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra’s chart-topping 1942 R&B hit “Trav’lin’ Light,” Holiday is credited as Lady Day because she was then under contract at another label. ∙ She had major pop crossover success after signing to Decca Records and releasing the 1945 hit “Lover Man.” ∙ In 2000, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Philadelphia, PA, United States
April 7, 1915

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