Born on April 7, 1915, her name was Eleanora Fagan until she changed it to Billie Holiday. Abandoned by her father and forced by her mother to become a prostitute at the age of 14, Billie had a difficult childhood. At an early age, she began singing in Harlem and by the late 1930s was an established recording artist. However, by the 1950s, Billie’s life was full of drug abuse, drinking, abusive relationships and racism. While in the hospital due to substance abuse, the police arrived and arrested her for drugs. Billie, only 44 years old, died a few days later.
Battered, bruised, chronically broken-hearted, Billie distilled despair with her voice. Frank Sinatra said no one had influenced his singing as much as Billie had. And maybe the person most influenced by Billie’s singing was Billie herself. Because singing is good for our health affecting us both emotionally and physically. It fights anxiety and animates blood flow. And distracts us from our sorrows. Billie’s life was difficult but would have been even more so had it not been for her voice.
So don’t stop singing!