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Billie Holiday is one of the most influential singers of her era, a powerful jazz vocalist whose voice carried the emotions and burdens of her rough upbringing and ongoing struggles. Despite her hardships, Holiday achieved memorable heights in her career. Today marks 100 years since the birth of “Lady Day,” and her journey and memory is worth celebrating.
Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Sadie, had her when she was just a teenager. Holiday was raised primarily in Baltimore and barely knew her father, jazz musician Clarence Holiday. Although her mother married and there were moments of stability, much of Holiday’s young life was turbulent and she moved around from home to home.
During these struggles, Holiday turned to music and sung along with records from Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. Holiday’s mother moved to New York in the late ’20’s and…
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