You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Billie Holiday

Icons of the Century

Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand by recording a song as incendiary as “Strange Fruit.”

Yet it is her angst that prevails in the public mind, thanks to recordings that became increasingly despairing and powerful as her voice was ravaged to a shell of its former self. Ultimately she became the touchstone for jazz singers, more famous in death than in life.

More Scene

  • Brandon Flynn, Timothy Granaderos, Alisha Boe,

    Alisha Boe Says Brock Turner Case Was Her 'Bible' for '13 Reasons Why' Season 2

    Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand […]

  • Yara ShahidiMTV Movie & TV Awards,

    Yara Shahidi, Noah Schnapp, More Talk the Dangers of Social Media at MTV Awards

    Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand […]

  • A Night in the Writers' Room

    Parity Takes Center Stage at Variety's 'A Night in the Writers' Room' Drama Panel

    Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand […]

  • American Black Film Festival opening night

    Trevor Jackson Was Originally Told He Was 'Too Young' to Star in 'Superfly' Remake

    Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand […]

  • Women In Film Crystal and Lucy

    Brie Larson Says She Learned Her Own Strength Playing 'Captain Marvel' Role

    Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand […]

  • 2018 NBCUniversal Upfront

    Andy Samberg on Returning to NBC With 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine': 'It Feels Like Home'

    Billie Holiday came to personify the dark side of the jazz life — a tragic victim of racism, drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and the cutthroat aspects of the music business. She was more than that, of course — a courageous, extraordinarily communicative singer with a unique behind-the-beat way of phrasing, unafraid to take a stand […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content