The fiercely honest, no-holds-barred memoir of Billie Holiday, the legendary jazz, swing, and standards singing sensation—a fiftieth-anniversary edition updated with stunning new photos, a revised discography, and an insightful foreword by music writer David Ritz
Taking the reader on a fast-moving journey from Billie Holiday’s rough-and-tumble Baltimore childhood (where she ran errands at a whorehouse in exchange for the chance to listen to Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith albums), to her emergence on Harlem’s club scene, to sold-out performances with the Count Basie Orchestra and with Artie Shaw and his band, this revelatory memoir is notable for its trenchant observations on the racism that darkened Billie’s life and the heroin addiction that ended it too soon.
We are with her during the mesmerizing debut of “Strange Fruit”; with her as she rubs shoulders with the biggest movie stars and musicians of the day (Bob Hope, Lana Turner, Clark Gable, Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and more); and with her through the scrapes with Jim Crow, spats with Sarah Vaughan, ignominious jailings, and tragic decline. All of this is told in Holiday’s tart, streetwise style and hip patois that makes it read as if it were written yesterday.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Raw Real and Readworthy
I have always been skeptical of Lady Day. Diana Ross’ portrayal in lady sings the blues doesn’t shine the best light of the struggles and the relentless pressure Billie put on herself to stay off drugs. This book made me FEEL how it felt to be a black women struggling to be better than what she came from in a time period when being BLACK And a WOMAN was very DIFFICULT. I love her honesty and the fact that she bore her soul even though she knew that this book may not change anyone’s perception that she was a singing drug addict and nothing more.
I love this book
I first read this in paper back form well over 20 years ago it's as magical and as soothing to me now as it was then. Yea historians say she stretched the truth here and their but to me this is how she wished to be remembered and who really can complain about that?
Lady sings the blues
Billie's often tragic story, in her own voice. Fast paced and emotionally involving while remaining conversational in tone, this is the next best thing to pulling up a barstool and hearing about the trials and triumphs from Lady Day herself. A must read for anyone interested in music 1930s/40s culture, or black history.