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Billie Summary

James Erskine

Billie

by James Erskine

Billie

James Erskine

Clock Icon5 min
Insight Icon3 key insights
Audio IconVisual, audio & text

In this documentary, discover the life of iconic blues artist Billie Holiday and find out where she gleaned inspiration from for her heartfelt lyrics through audio recordings of her, her colleagues, and her loved ones.

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Billie

by James Erskine

Billie

James Erskine

Overview

Get to know the woman behind one of the world's most famous voices in this heartfelt documentary about jazz singer Billie Holiday. Billie Holiday died at just 44 years old. Through her trials and tribulations with addiction, her musical breakthrough and the discrimination she faced, this documentary lets you in on who Billie Holiday truly was.

Through a newly unvaulted treasure trove of interviews and tapes recorded by passionate journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl, who dedicated her career to revealing the true story of this extraordinary woman, we can better understand Holiday's story. Being one of the most famous Black entertainers of her time, Billie Holiday faced an incredible amount of support, but also hate, from the general public, due to the political situation in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Her life was a great paradox, one that this documentary unravels with poignancy.

Billie Holiday changed the direction of American music through her heartfelt performances, but also because she used her voice to make striking social and political statements. Her 1939 song, 'Strange Fruit', powerfully depicted the lynching of Black people in America. Despite the white world trying to stop her, they couldn't help but listen. Billie's voice and lyrics shook the world – and its aftermath can still be felt today.

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Favorite Quote

"It was Billie's interpretation of 'Strange Fruit', not the song itself, that changed the direction of American music. But not everyone stood to applaud her primal howl against the bloody history of white America."

Linda Lipnack Kuehl, journalist

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