Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

 

 

 

Director:    Sidney J. Furie.

Starring:    Diana Ross (Billie Holiday), Billy Dee Williams (Louis McKay), Richard Pryor (Piano Man), James T. Callahan (Reg Hanley), Paul Hampton (Harry), Sid Melton (Jerry), Virginia Capers (Mama Holiday), Yvonne Fair (Yvonne), Isabel Sanford (The Madame), Tracee Lyles (The Prostitute), Ned Glass (The Agent), Milton Selzer (The Doctor), Norman Bartold (The Detective #1), Clay Tanner (The Detective #2), Jester Hairston (The Butler).

Billie Holiday is one of the blues greatest singers from the 1930s to the 1950s. Unfortunately, her life was a mess because of her addiction to drugs.  

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

 

 


Historical Background:

 

1915  --  born Eleanora Fagan in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., the daughter of a professional musician who played guitar with the Fletcher Henderson band. She adopts the name Billie from the movie actress, Billie Dove.

1928   --  she moves with her mother to New York City where they just subsist.

1931  --  without any formal musical training, sings with a plaintiff voice in a Harlem nightclub.

1933  --  makes her first recordings, with Benny Goodman and others.

1935  --  series of recordings with Teddy Wilson and members of Count Basie's band brings her wider recognition and launches her career as the leading jazz singer of her time.

1936-42  --  her peak recording years; hangs with saxophonist Lester Young, who gives her the nickname Lady Day.

1937-38  --  tours with Basie and with Artie Shaw.

1938  --  opens at the plush Café Society in New York City.

1940  --  performs exclusively in cabarets and in concert.

1947  --  Holiday gets arrested for narcotics violation and spends a year in a rehabilitation center. Tend days after her release, she sings to a packed Carnegie Hall.

She continues to perform and tour, but her heroin addiction ravages her voice.  

1956  --  writes her autobiography, "Lady Sings the Blues."

1959  -- dies in New York City.

Some of her most famous songs were "Strange Fruit," "Fine and Mellow," "The Man I Love," "Billie's Blues," "God Bless the Child," and "I Wished on the Moon."

 

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