The lady that sings the blues was known as Billie Holiday or Lady Day to many. Billie Holiday was the greatest female Jazz singer In American history. Billie started out as a young girl who, like her idols of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong turned whatever material she was given into a piece of art of her own. Billie Holiday stated “l hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That’s all I know. Billie Holiday sang as If she knew her music had so much emotional power that she had to distance herself from it Although Billie Holiday had no formal training and ever learned how to read music she quickly found herself in one of the most active jazz scenes in the country. By the time she turned 18 years of age, Billie Holiday had made her singing debut In the Harlem nightclubs. She borrowed her name Billie Holiday from screen star Billie Dove. It wasn’t long before she was discovered by producer John Hammond while working in Harlem.
John Hammond was blown away by what he heard. Soon after, he reported that she was the greatest singer he had ever heard. Her bluesy vocal style brought a slow and rough quality to the Jazz tankards that were often upbeat and light. Billie Holiday seemed to of added a new dimension to jazz singing. Hammond was responsible for getting Billie Holiday to record with an up and coming musician band leader Benny Goodman. They recorded many tracks together like Bilge’s first “Your Mother’s Son-Len-Law” and “Riffing’ the Scotch. In 1935, Holiday’s singing career got a big push when she landed a recording contract after singing some popular hits like ‘What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Miss Brown to You. ” She recorded numerous master tracks that ultimately came the foundation of early American Jazz. Later in 1937, Holiday Joined Count Basis followed by Rattler Shaw In 1938 Billie Holiday became one of the first black women to accompany a white orchestra: this was a very Impressive accomplishment of her time. Holiday started performing at the New York Cafe Society.
It was here that she started to develop her signature stage trademarks such as wearing gardenias in her hair and singing with her head tilted back. During the offs while Billie Holiday was working with Columbia Records she was Introduced to a poem called “Strange Fruit written by Able Improper” “Strange Fruit” was an emotional piece about the lynching of a black man. Columbia Records would not allow Holiday to record this piece because of its sensitive subject matter. However, Billie Holiday decided to record the piece under an alternative label, Commodore.
The Commodore Master Takes Billie Holiday; “Strange Fruit” piece last for 3, with the first 1 with presence of the orchestra only. A trumpet, saxophone and piano are the main sounds that are heard. Starting at 0:30 the piano is the only instrument that plays. The piano lays a soft tune that doesn’t seem neither lively nor dull. At 1 Billie holiday sings the first phase of the poem. Her voice is remarkably clear with pronunciation of every word. 1:41 Billie Holiday takes a rest and the piano continues with a solo. At 1 Billie Joins the piece once again to finish with the rest of the lyrics.
Her voice has become more intense since the first verse. It’s obvious that the lyrics have become dark and more emotional. The Plano mimics the same theme. At 2:35 Billie Holidays Voice has become very loud and seems to crescendo with each word. It all comes to 1 OFF very loudly and too almost the point not being distinguished. Strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees, Pastoral Scene of the gallant south, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, Here is a strange and bitter crop. Southern trees bear a Billie Holiday sang these words and regretted it- at least momentarily. As she wrote in her book “There wasn’t even a patter of applause when I finished, and then a lone person began to clap nervously. Then suddenly everybody was clapping. ” From this day forward “Strange Fruit” became a nightly ritual for her. The haunting lyrics and melody made it impossible for white Americans and politicians to continue to ignore the southern campaign of racist terror.