Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Lady Sings The Blues by Billie Holiday with William Dufty (1956)
When legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday published her autobiography Lady Sings The Blues in 1956, she included a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In Lady Sings The Blues (co-written, though some say ghostwritten, by William Dufty), Billie Holiday (1915-1959) writes in explicit detail of her turbulent childhood, her rise to fame as a jazz singer, her descent into heroin addition, her arrest and conviction of drug possession, and her triumphant return to the concert stage.
The Scranton reference in Lady Sings The Blues appears in Holiday's description of her grueling cross-country touring schedule by bus as a member of Artie Shaw's touring band. It was also a rarity at that period in musical history to have an African-American singer fronting an all-white jazz band as she did. The Scranton reference is on page 75:
"Getting a night's sleep was a continual drag, too. We were playing big towns and little towns, proms and fairs. A six-hundred-mile jump overnight was standard. When we got to put up at a hotel, it was usually four cats to a room. We might finish at Scranton, Pennsylvania, at two in the morning, grab something to eat, and make Cleveland, Ohio by noon the next day."
In 1972, Lady Sings The Blues was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Diana Ross as Billie Holiday.
You can visit Billie Holiday's offical website by clicking here.