Billie Holiday

by: Shenell James

Billie Holiday was known as "Lay Day" and she  is known for her beautiful voice and a flower in her hair


  Billie Holiday was born on April 07, 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland, United States to Clarence Holiday and Sadie Hariss. Billie was originally born by the name of Elinore Harris but changed it to Billie Holiday. During her childhood her parents got divorced and she was forced to move to New York with her mother Sadie. When ever her mom needed to go to work she left little Billie with her family members and they would abuse her. She had no education growing up and she was raped twice at age 10 and 14 years old.In 1926 Billie was raped by her neighbor who's name is Wilbur Rich, and in 1929 Billie's mother became a prostitute which influenced Billie to be one too nearly reaching 14 years old. After she was raped at age 10 she was put in a Catholic School so she could be safe, but when she was a prostitute,Billie was arrested and put into women prison 3 years after on the job.

A Star Was Born

In 1933 when she got out of prison,Billie started singing for tips in nightclubs. Ever since Billie was a little girl, she was inspired by Louis Armstrong and the late Bessie Smith. Billie was paid almost $18 a week, until one day she was discovered in by a talent scout John Hammond. After she was found by John, he invited her to make her recording debut at age 18 in the year 1933. She was told to sing "Your Mother's Son-In-Law" and "Riffin' the Scotch" and John Hammond was blown away by her voice. She later sold about 300 copies of her song "Son-In-Law" and "Riffin' the Scotch" sold about 5,000 copies! After, she was signed to Brunswick Records by John Hammond.

"Lady Day"

In between 1935 and 1938 Billie Holiday  recorded many songs with artist such as Teddy Wilson, Duke Ellignton,Ben Webster, and etc. While Billie and Lester Young were recording a song together she was nicknamed "Lady Day" by Lester and Lester was nicknamed "Prez by Billie. Lester and Billie were really close friends back then so they recorded many songs together like "He Ain't Got Rhythm", "Fine and Mellow" (find in the video above), and etc.

Relationship and Kids

While Billie Holiday enjoyed her music, she wanted to find true love, but not all her relationships were happy. She had abusive boyfriends and some who just didn't treat her right. Billie holiday was interested in men and women. She had an affair with Orson Welles who was a actor and film director, after Billie had a girlfriend named Tallulah Bankhead who was an actress, a boyfriend who is named John Levy, and she married Jimmy Monroe on August 25, 1941 and got divorced in 1957. Had a common law husband who's name is Joe Guy and was separated in 1957. Her last relationship was with her ex-husband, Louis McKay since March 28, 1957 until to her death. Between those relationships, he had two  kids and their father(s) were unknown.

Goodbye To A Jazz Star

In the year of 1959 of May, Billie checked into an hospital because she had some trouble with her health. Before she past away, she was arrested because someone found narcotics in her hospital room. On July 7th in 1959, Billie died. She died because of heart failure and liver disease due to her interest in narcotics and alcohol. It was a tragedy for all of her fans, friends, and family. Mrs.McKay was buried in New York, New York and was still married to Louis McKay who was a drug dealer. Billie Holiday or also known as Lady Day was one of the most important Jazz musician in history and she is still remember from this day.

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