BILLIE'S BLUES: A Survey of Billie Holiday's Career 1933-1959 by John Chilton

BILLIE'S BLUES: A Survey of Billie Holiday's Career 1933-1959

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This scrupulously fulfills the above stated intention--a week-in, year-out, retrospective of Billie Holiday's performances on stages, tours, in many clubs and only one film, omitting the earlier years which are harder to corroborate factually. Even her own book, still the most readable, communicating the harsh rasp of that tragic life, was often inaccurate. This then will be for the more serious devotee interested in her working days, so often interrupted by the periods in which she drank or doped steadily, spent time in jails and clinics, and was never free of the harassment of the police nor the nails of her habit. Uncertain about herself, uncertain about singing Strange Fruit even if she had said ""I'm a race woman"" and was humiliatingly treated in many of the places she sang, she finally declared herself. A final section includes not only a play-by-replay of the recordings but a chronology and full bibliography. As for Billie--the personalia is minimal--her sexual ambivalence, prostitution, comics-reading, card-playing, money spent as if there were no tomorrow. ""There were a lot of bruises in Billie's life"" as one of her contemporaries said--a few of them show here. Mostly this is a professional commemorative for a great artist who became the legend of her sobriquet, Lady Day.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Stein & Day