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HHr-PJM 2017-FINAL2 -Publishing Version

Pure Jazz Magazine covers the music called Jazz from a very unique perspective not seen in most publications.

n 1946 Billie recorded

n 1946 Billie recorded “Good Morning Heartache”. It failed to chart but remained as part of her show. In September of 1946 Billie began her only major film “New Orleans”. She starred opposite Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman. Plagued by racism and McCarthyism producer Jules Levy and scriptwriter Herbert Biberman were pressed to lessen Holiday and Armstrong’s roles to avoid the impression that black people created Jazz. The attempts failed because in 1947 Biberman was listed as one of the Hollywood ten and was sent to jail. They, according to Billie, deleted miles of footage and scenes. For the soundtrack she recorded “The Blues Are Brewin” and “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” also “Farewell to Storyville”. Billie’s drug addiction was a problem on the set. She earned more than 1000 dollars a week from club ventures but spent most of it on heroin. Her lover Joe Guy supplied her with it but when her manager Joe Glaser discovered this was happening he banned Joe Guy from the set. By 1947 Holiday was at her commercial peak having made 250,000 dollars the three previous years. She came in second in the Down Beat poll for 1946 and 1947, her highest ranking in that poll. Holiday won the Metronome Magazine poll. In May of 1947 she was arrested for possession of narcotics in her New York apartment. She went to court on May 27, 1947. The case Page 14 - Pure Jazz Magazine was called the USA vs. Billie Holiday. At the end of the trial Billie was sentenced to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia. She was released on March 16, 1948 because of good behavior. On March 27, 1948, Billie Holiday played Carnegie Hall to a sold out crowd. There were 2700 tickets sold in advance. It was record selling for the time. Her popularity was unusual because she didn’t have a current hit record. Her last on the charts was “Lover Man” in 1945. Holiday sang 32 songs at the Carnegie concert by her count, including Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”. On April 27, 1948, Bob Sylvester and her promoter Al Wilde arranged a Broadway show for her. Titled “Holiday On Broadway”, it sold out. It also closed in three weeks. Billie was arrested again on January 22, 1949, in her room at the San Francisco’s Hotel Mark Twain. They found a small cake of opium in her room but the case was dropped; however, it hurt her popularity. Billie said she began to use drugs in the early 1940s when her first husband Jimmy Monroe introduced her to it. While still married she became involved with trumpeter Joe Guy who was her drug dealer. She divorced Monroe in 1947 and also split with Joe guy. In October 1949 Holiday recorded “Crazy He Calls Me” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010. Gabler said the hit was her most successful recording for Decca since “Lover Man”. Billie’s NYC cabaret card was revoked because of her 1947 conviction, preventing her from working anywhere that sold alcohol for the remaining 12 years of her life. Clubs that sold alcohol in New York were among the highest paying in the country. Club owners knew blacklisted performers had limited work so they could offer a smaller salary. This reduced Billie’s earnings. She had not received proper record royalties until she joined Decca, so her main revenue was club concerts. The problem only got worse when her records went out of print in the 1950s. She seldom received royalties in her later years and in 1958 she received a royalty check for 11 dollars. Her lawyer in the late 1950s, Earle Warren Zaidins, only registered 2 songs with BMI that she had written or co-written costing her revenue. In 1948 Billie played at the Ebony Club, which, because she had lost her cabaret card, was illegal. Her manager John Levy was convinced he could get her card back and allowed her to open without one. Nothing happened and it was a huge success. Billie recorded “I Loves You Porgy” in 1948. By the 1950s Billie’s drug abuse, drinking and relationships with abusive men caused her health to deteriorate. Her later recordings showed the effects of declining health on her voice. It grew coarser and no longer projected its former vibrancy. Billie Holiday toured Europe in 1954 as part of the Leonard Feather package. The tour party was Holiday, Buddy de Franco, Red Norvo, Carl Drinlard, Elaine Leighton, Sonny Clark, Berryl Booker, Jimmy Rainey and Red Mitchel. A recording of a live set in Germany was released as “Lady Love—Billie Holiday”. In her later years her voice had become so fragile but it never lost the edge that had made it so distinctive. Billie’s autobiography LADY SINGS THE BLUES was ghost written by William Dufty and published in 1956. Dufty a New York Post writer and editor, then married to Holiday’s close friend Maely Dufty wrote the book quickly from a series of conversations with the singer in Dufty’s 93 rd street apartment. He drew on the work of earlier interviewers and intended to let Holiday tell her story her own way. To accompany the autobiography Billie released an LP in 1956 entitled “Lady Sings the Blues”. On December 22, 1956, Billboard Magazine reviewed the LP and called it a worthy musical compliment to her autobiography. On November 10, 1956, Billie performed two concerts before packed audiences in Carnegie Hall. Live recordings of the

second appearance were released on a Verve/HMV album in the UK in late 1961 called “The Essential Billy Holiday”. New York Times writer Gilbert Milstein wrote,”I had known her casually over the years and I was shocked at her physical weakness. Her rehearsal had been so, so. Her voice sounded tinny and trailed off; her body sagged tiredly but I will never forget the metamorphosis that night. The lights went down and musicians began to play and the narration began. Miss Holiday stepped from between the curtains into a white spotlight wearing a white evening gown and white gardenias in her black hair. She was erect and beautiful, poised and smiling. She sang with strength undiminished with all of the art that was hers. I was very much moved in the darkness. My face burned but I recall only one thing. I smiled.” On March 28, 1957, Holiday married Louis McKay a mafia enforcer. McKay like all the other men in her life was abusive but he did try to get her off drugs. In the late 1950s, Billie Holiday and Lester Young drank quietly together in bars close to Birdland and saw in one another their own deterioration staring back at them. They were tired people they were no longer energetic or young. In 1955 Young was admitted to Bellevue hospital following a nervous breakdown. In 1957 he was readmitted for alcoholism and malnutrition. In Paris a couple of weeks before his death Lester called Billie his ‘Lady Day’. He literally drank himself to death with a combination of liver failure and malnutrition and died March 15, 1959. On May 31, 1959, Billie Holiday was taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York for treatment of liver and heart disease. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics under the order of Harry J. Anslinger who had been after her since 1939, arrested and handcuffed her as she lay dying. On July 17, 1959, at 3:10am she died of pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver. They took away her records and her comic books. In 1958 Lady Day wanted strings for a project she envisioned. It was to be the last album released while she was alive. She picked musical director Ray Ellis to make this project happen because she had heard his rendition of the song “For All We Know”. Ellis was excited to work with her and Columbia studios gave her full reign, providing her with a 40-piece orchestra. It was her most expensive production. Her voice had changed to a fragile raspy sound and she was more vocally limited than she had ever been. They completed the album and when Billie listened to the playback of the song “I’m a Fool to Want You” tears welled up in her eyes. Her soul was laid bare and she was satisfied with her work. However it took Ray Ellis a couple of weeks to realize the greatness of this project. He was listening superficially and musically but Billy was beyond all that; she was coming straight from the soul. Lester Young and Billy Holiday were two dazzling spirits that showed us beauty through the pain they shared. The Dazzling Duo…Pork Pie Hat and Gardenias forever. Ray Leitos is a freelance writer. He is currently working on several projects ... Billy Holiday Ray Leitos Pure Jazz Magazine - Page 15