Billie Holiday

In: Film and Music

Submitted By brandi73
Words 1014
Pages 5
The history and progression of Billie Holiday’s rise to fame is not only tragic but also inspirational. She was able to overcome her traumatic childhood issues and become one of the greatest jazz vocalists of the twentieth century. Although her career was cut short by her untimely death at the young age of 44, her legacy lives on through her music. Billie Holiday was born as Eleanora Fagan Gough in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 7, 1915, to a single mother. Her alleged father, Clarence Holiday, who ultimately became a successful jazz musician, was absent from her life except for an occasional visit. Without a father figure in her life, she began getting into trouble, mainly by ditching school. In January of 1925, at the tender age of 9, Holiday was sent to the House of Good Shepherd, a home for problematic girls of African-American heritage. She stayed in the home for approximately eight months before returning to her mother’s care. She eventually returned to the House of Good Shepherd after allegedly being sexually assaulted in 1926. Music became her salvation. She would listen to Bessie Smith and Louie Armstrong and sing along with them. She started singing at local clubs in New York City after following her mother there. It was during this time in 1930 that she changed her name to “Billie”, supposedly after the actress Billie Dove. Holiday’s troubles did not end in childhood. She had difficulty with relationships, chose unsuitable men and drank excessively. Her first husband, James Monroe, whom she married in1941, introduced her to opium. Although Holiday and Monroe were not divorced until 1947, the time they actually spent together as husband and wife did not last long. Even after their separation, Holiday continued to abuse controlled substances and drink heavily. She later met a trumpeter named Joe Guy and began using heroin with him.…...

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