No longer a member of the nightclub circuit and unable to escape the pain of childhood trauma, Holiday immediately turned to heroin again. In she was admitted into a New York hospital with liver cirrhosis and heart and lung problems. Anslinger would stop at nothing. His men entered the hospital room and threatened to arrest her after planting heroin under her bed. They handcuffed her to the bed, took pictures, interrogated her, fingerprinted her, and even removed gifts brought by friends. The agents stationed police officers outside her door and barred any visitors.
She gained her weight back and was on the mend. But of course, it was one more thing for Anslinger and his men to declare illegal. The doctors were prohibited to give her further methadone treatment and she died just days later. One could argue — and oh, I would — the antecedent anthem for the Civil Rights Movement, that signature song of hers, cost Billie her life. Sadly, she died just a few months later. You can almost read the fight-or-flight on her face as she gulps for additional courage before singing the first verse.
For the two lynched men. For her father. Courtesy Library of Congress. Because of that memory, Holiday was reluctant to perform the song, but did so anyway to tell people about the reality of life as a black man in America. The song was so poignant for Holiday that she laid down some rules when she sang it at her gigs: She would close the evening with the song; the waiters would stop service when she began; and the room would be in total darkness except for a spotlight on her face. There would be no encore.
At times, her performance of the song was met with fierce pushback. Though many people knew that lynchings of African-Americans in the South were common, there was resistance to ending the practice among Southern whites. A known racist, Anslinger believed that drugs caused black people to overstep their boundaries in American society and that black jazz singers — who smoked marijuana — created the devil's music.
When Anslinger forbid Holiday to perform "Strange Fruit," she refused, causing him to devise a plan to destroy her. Knowing that Holiday was a drug user, he had some of his men frame her by selling her heroin. When she was caught using the drug, she was thrown into prison for the next year and a half. Her nightclub days, which she loved so much, were over. Still determined to soldier on, she performed to sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, but still, the demons of her difficult childhood, which involved working at a brothel alongside her prostitute mother, haunted her and she began using heroin again.
In , Holiday checked herself into a New York City hospital. Suffering from heart and lung problems and cirrhosis of the liver due to decades of drug and alcohol abuse, the singer was an emaciated version of herself.
Her once heartfelt voice now withered and raspy. Still bent on ruining the singer, Anslinger had his men go to the hospital and handcuff her to her bed.
Although Holiday had been showing gradual signs of recovery, Anslinger's men forbid doctors to offer her further treatment. The MGM sessions were released posthumously on a self-titled album, later retitled and re-released as Last Recording.
McKay, like most of the men in her life, was abusive. By early , Holiday was diagnosed with cirrhosis. Although she had initially stopped drinking on her doctor's orders, it was not long before she relapsed.
Her manager Joe Glaser , jazz critic Leonard Feather , photojournalist Allan Morrison, and the singer's own friends all tried in vain to persuade her to go to a hospital. On May 31, , Holiday was taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York for treatment of liver disease and heart disease. Anslinger , had been targeting Holiday since at least In her final years, she had been progressively swindled out [ by whom? Her funeral Mass was held on July 21, , at the Church of St.
Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. She was buried at Saint Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx. The story of her burial plot  and how it was managed by her estranged husband, Louis McKay, was documented on NPR in Gilbert Millstein of New York Times , who was the announcer at Holiday's Carnegie Hall concerts and wrote parts of the sleeve notes for the album The Essential Billie Holiday see above , described her death in these sleeve notes, dated Billie Holiday died in Metropolitan Hospital, New York, on Friday, July 17, , in the bed in which she had been arrested for illegal possession of narcotics a little more than a month before, as she lay mortally ill; in the room from which a police guard had been removed — by court order — only a few hours before her death, which, like her life, was disorderly and pitiful.
She had been strikingly beautiful, but she was wasted physically to a small, grotesque caricature of herself. The worms of every kind of excess — drugs were only one — had eaten her. The likelihood exists that among the last thoughts of this cynical, sentimental, profane, generous and greatly talented woman of 44 was the belief that she was to be arraigned the following morning.
She would have been, eventually, although possibly not that quickly. In any case, she removed herself finally from the jurisdiction of any court here below. Holiday's delivery made her performances recognizable throughout her career.
Her improvisation compensated for lack of musical education. Her contralto voice  lacked range and was thin [ dubious — discuss ] , and years of drug use altered its texture and gave it a fragile, raspy sound. Holiday said that she always wanted her voice to sound like an instrument and some of her influences were Louis Armstrong and the singer Bessie Smith. I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of "I'm a Fool to Want You. After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes.
I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn't until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was.
Frank Sinatra was influenced by her performances on 52nd Street as a young man. He told Ebony magazine in about her impact:. With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years. Billie Holiday recorded extensively for four labels: Columbia Records , which issued her recordings on its subsidiary labels Brunswick Records , Vocalion Records , and OKeh Records , from through ; Commodore Records in and ; Decca Records from through ; briefly for Aladdin Records in ; Verve Records and on its earlier imprint Clef Records from through , then again for Columbia Records from to and finally for MGM Records in Many of Holiday's recordings appeared on rpm records prior to the long-playing vinyl record era , and only Clef, Verve, and Columbia issued albums during her lifetime that were not compilations of previously released material.
Many compilations have been issued since her death; as well as comprehensive box sets and live recordings. In , Joel Whitburn 's company Record Research compiled information on the popularity of recordings released from the era predating rock and roll and created pop charts dating back to the beginning of the commercial recording industry.
The company's findings were published in the book Pop Memories — Several of Holiday's records are listed on the pop charts Whitburn created. Holiday began her recording career on a high note with her first major release, "Riffin' the Scotch", of which 5, copies were sold. Wilson, one of the most influential jazz pianists of the swing era,  accompanied Holiday more than any other musician. He and Holiday issued 95 recordings together. In July , Holiday began releasing sides under her own name.
Holiday had 16 best selling songs in , making the year her most commercially successful. It was in this year that Holiday scored her sole number one hit as a featured vocalist on the available pop charts of the s, "Carelessly".
In , Holiday recorded her biggest selling record, " Strange Fruit " for Commodore, charting at number 16 on the available pop charts for the s. In , Billboard began publishing its modern pop charts, which included the Best Selling Retail Records chart, the precursor to the Hot None of Holiday's songs placed on the modern pop charts, partly because Billboard only published the first ten slots of the charts in some issues.
Minor hits and independent releases had no way of being spotlighted. Two of Holiday's songs placed on the chart, " Trav'lin' Light " with Paul Whiteman, which topped the chart, and " Lover Man ", which reached number 5.
Holiday's public stature grew in the following years. In she was voted to the Down Beat Hall Of Fame and soon after Columbia reissued nearly a hundred of her early records. Holiday would go on to be nominated for 23 posthumous Grammy awards.
Billie Holiday received several Esquire Magazine awards during her lifetime. In Baltimore, Maryland erected a statue of Billie Holiday that was completed in with additional panels of images inspired by her seminal song Strange Fruit. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the singer. For her self-titled album, see Billie Holiday album. For the album originally titled Billie Holiday , see Last Recording.
American jazz singer and songwriter. Jazz swing. Main article: Billie Holiday discography. Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Billie Holiday. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Jazz portal Biography portal. Popular Music. Archived from the original on December 26, Retrieved March 13, Archived from the original on July 12, New York: Da Capo Press. The University Press of Mississippi.
Lady Day's Diary. London: Sanctuary Publishing. Retrieved February 24, Retrieved on November 13, Retrieved November 13, Archived from the original on April 23, Retrieved April 7, Philadelphia: Running Press. Lady Sings the Blues. New York: Harlem Moon.
Originally published by Doubleday, New York, Da Capo Press. October 4, Retrieved May 7, Billie Holiday. Rosen Publishing Group. Part 3. Her Haunted Heart. London Review of Books. December 20, The Guardian. May 3, July 4, Retrieved January 29, San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 31, The New Yorker. Retrieved April 6, December 22, The Essential Billie Holiday liner notes. From Satchmo to Miles.
Retrieved March 22,The song Strange Fruit and its history should be required material for all high school students. And while she has a checkered past -- let him who is without sin cast the first stone. The first photo is of Billie Holiday, the second picture is a copy of the 78 RPM vinyl record, the third is of a lynch mob forming to lynch someone/5(4).