Holiday #5

Lady Sings the Blues

This is the song that many will first associate with Billie Holiday. Written with Jazz pianist and band leader Herbie Nichols it was recorded in sessions from August of 1955 but released in 1956 on the five track album of the same name. This is also the title of a biopic that came out in 1972 with the legend Diana Ross playing Holiday. The movie did not receive the greatest of reviews and is loosely based on Holiday’s autobiography which has the same title as well if you’re sensing a theme here – but as often the case with these films, it’s not very factually accurate. However it is quite enjoyable from my standpoint and well worth watching just to see Ross perform the songs.

Billie herself would record over 200 cover songs and many memorable versions from The American Songbook/American Standards. Of her 40 original songs, “Lady Sing the Blues” has not been covered as often and coincidentally there are currently 40 versions. The first one appeared in a medley by Susan Carter in 1970. This next clip is from one of the many tribute albums to Billie Holiday, interestingly it so happens to have been assembled by the versatile actor Peter Stormare. As I understand the story, Peter, who has his own record label named Stormvox was grieving the death of Jimi Hendrix back in 1970 and his mother gave him a Billie Holiday album which helped him to the point of him promising his mother he would do a tribute album.

Rocco DeLuca sings here, more recently he has been working with legendary producer/musician Daniel Lanois.

This is the instrumental track from the co-writer Herbie Nichols and it was released at about the same time as the vocal track in 1956.

References: 1, 2, 3,

One thought on “Holiday #5

  1. I’ve never seen the movie but I’ve always wanted to. It’s a shame that in most biopic movies they just can’t go by the facts…I do understand combining events for time but to make up things…really bugs me. That is why I prefer documentaries at this point.
    I’m still amazed at Holiday’s voice and the crap she went through. It helped create her terrible ending, unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

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