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.

1 comment:

Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder) said...

Speaking of Billie Holiday, There is a great group on Yahoo called Billie Holiday And The Disciples Of Swing that salutes the art of vocal jazz. During February they were celebrating Girl Singers Month and this weeks playlist includes several tracks by Billie that were recorded in 1957 at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival. You should check them out. Here is the link to the group and the current playlist:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BillieHoliday_And_The_Disciples_Of_Swing/01

01 And This Is My Beloved.mp3 Gloria Lynne at Basin Street 912 K

01 As Long As I Live.mp3 Peggy Lee (rehearsal, 1962)

01 Darktown Strutters Ball.mp3 Alberta Hunter, 1978

01 I Didn't Know What Time It Was.mp3 Sarah Vaughan, 198X

01 Manhattan.mp3 Lee Wiley

01 S'Wonderful.mp3 Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr.

01 They Raided The Joint.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952

02 Loud Talkin' Woman.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952

02 The More I See You.mp3 Keely Smith, studio session, 6/20/1985


02 Willow Weep For Me.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

03 Flying Home.mp3 Ella Fitzgerald, Carnegie Hall, 9/18/1949

03 I Only Have Eyes For You.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

03 I'll Get Along Somehow.mp3 Nancy Wilson

03 Mood Indigo.mp3 Lena Horne and Tony Bennett

04 Billie's Blues.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

04 Lucky Day.mp3 Annie Ross,1959

04 One Night Stand.mp3 Janis Joplin, 1970

04 Why Don't You Do Right.mp3 Linda Hopkins, 6/18/82

05 After You've Gone.mp3 Kay Starr, 1975

05 Azure-te.mp3 Ernestine Anderson, studio session, 1958

05 Lover Come Back To Me.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

05 Miss Brown to You.mp3 Carmen McRae, studio session, 6/29/1961

06 Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby.mp3 Ann Richards, studio session, 1960

07 I'd Rather Go Blind.mp3 Etta James live at Memory Lane, 1986

07 Influences.mp3 Billie Holiday

07 The Way We Were.mp3 Peggy Lee (1974 Academy Awards)

08 My Funny Valentine.mp3 Anita O'Day at Carnegie Hall, 1986

08 No Ways Tired.mp3 The Barret Sisters, 1983

08 You've Changed.mp3 Shelby Lynne, studio session,

09 But Not For Me.mp3 Gladys Knight

09 Influences part 2.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

09 Porgy.mp3 Nina Simone at Westbury Music Fair, 1968

09 Skylark.mp3 Aretha Franklin, Detroit Music Hall 1986

10 Mean Way Of Loving.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952

13 He Brought Us.mp3 The Barret Sisters, 1983

13 My Funny Valentine_The Gentleman is a Dope.mp3 Peggy Lee and Lena Horne, 1978

15 I Wish You Love 1.mp3 Barbra Streisand, JFK Stadium 1966

15 More.mp3 Baby Jane Dexter

15 Only The Lonely.mp3 Aretha Franklin, studio session, 7/16/64


17 I Cried For You.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952


17 You Turned The Tables On Me.mp3 Anita O'Day on the BBC, 1964


18 Medley.mp3 Anita O'Day and Chris Connor at Michaels Pub, 1989


19 If I Were A Bell.mp3 June Christy Live At The Dunes

20 It Don't Mean A Thing.mp3 June Christy Live At The Dunes

21 Jeepers Creepers.mp3 june Christy Live At The Dunes

22 Too Marvelous.mp3 June Christy Live At The Dunes

25 Mixed Emotions.mp3 Dinah Washington Live At Basin Street, 7/10/55


26 Come Rain Or Shine.mp3 Dinah Washington Live At Basin Street, 7/10/55


http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BillieHoliday_And_The_Disciples_Of_Swing/