1001 Other Albums – 11 – Billie Holiday – Lady Sings The Blues

Here we are with an album I actually own, although my copy is a nice re-issue, with a different cover, that I bought in Portugal while I was on holiday a few years ago. By the time of this release in 1956 Holiday’s voice had noticeably deteriorated from her earlier recordings but it didn’t really matter, the imperfections are quite appropriate for the mood of the songs. Holiday’s autobiography was released the same year, with the same title, and the album is a companion for the book, possibly purposfully, possibly not.

Holiday and the song ‘Strange Fruit’ will be eternally linked and in her autobiography she suggested that she, together with her musical collaborators, set the poem to music. The writers David Margolick and Hilton Als dismissed that claim in their work ‘Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song’, writing that hers was “an account that may set a record for most misinformation per column inch”. When challenged, Holiday—whose autobiography had been ghostwritten by William Dufty—claimed, “I ain’t never read that book.”

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