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Publisher's Summary

When Billie Holiday stepped into Columbia's studios in November 1933, it marked the beginning of what is arguably the most remarkable and influential career in 20th-century popular music. Her voice weathered countless shifts in public taste, and new reincarnations of her continue to arrive, most recently in the form of singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele. Most of the writing on Holiday has focused on the tragic details of her life - her prostitution at the age of 14, her heroin addiction and alcoholism, her series of abusive relationships - or tried to correct the many fabrications of her autobiography. But now, Billie Holiday stays close to the music, to her performance style, and to the self she created and put into print, on record and on stage.
Drawing on a vast amount of new material that has surfaced in the last decade, critically acclaimed jazz writer John Szwed considers how her life inflected her art, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a number of her signature songs, and her legacy.
©2015 John Szwed (P)2015 Recorded Books
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Jan on 05-25-15

Her life wasn't just about addiction.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It provided me with a respectful portrait of Billie Holiday as a musician, a hard-worker, and a first rate entertainer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Billie Holiday?

Strange Fruit

What about Karen Chilton’s performance did you like?

Captured Billie Holiday's spirit and speech well.

Did Billie Holiday inspire you to do anything?

Listen again to my Billie Holiday CD.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By M. Graham on 05-22-15

Absorbing Story, Great Information

What does Karen Chilton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Unlike many American narrators of music histories and biographies, her voice complements the tone and rhythm of the story. Interesting, grown-up, and pleasant voice. HOWEVER, like every music history book I've listened to so far, this one contains far too many absurd, disruptive mispronunciations of well-known names. Passing on such egregious errors is a tiresome and very familiar MALpractice of the audiobook recording industry, and listeners need to speak up and demand better products. Mispronunciations, hilarious as they might be, not only propel the listener straight out of the story but damage the narrative trust between the narrator and the listener.WHY don't audiobooks have competent editors?

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I found all of the story extremely interesting and illuminating.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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