Mar

22

WKCR Presents Billie Holiday Birthday Broadcast

Written by

Ninety-five years after her birth, on April 7th, 2010, WKCR will dedicate
all programming to Billie Holiday. Born Elinore Fagan in Baltimore, Holiday
learned songs by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith despite the instability
and tragedy of her childhood. In 1929, she teamed up with tenor sax player
Kenneth Hollan, slowly building her reputation as a vocalist. She replaced
Monette Moore at a club called “Covan’s” on West 132 Street in 1932. When
producer John Hammond came to see Moore, he was instead captivated by
Holiday. He secured a record deal for her, and she recorded two tracks with
Benny Goodman. She soon began to record under her own name, collaborating
with the greatest artists of the swing era. With pianist Teddy Wilson, she
manipulated the melody of dull pop songs for jukeboxes, transforming them
into jazz standards, and she courageously recorded “Strange Fruit” with
Commodore records when Columbia rejected the sensitive subject matter.
Though her career was strained by substance abuse and heartbreak, her voice
did not deteriorate. As she inscribed the catastrophes of her life on the
texture of her voice, it became only more powerful, more haunting. On April
7th, we will examine the life of this great, mysterious artist, but most
importantly, we will listen to her voice.

WKCR-FM NY is a non-commercial, student-run radio station affiliated with
Columbia University.  We broadcast to the New York City region at 89.9 FM
and over the internet at wkcr.org and on iTunes radio, offering over 60
hours of weekly jazz programming.

Ellen Walkington, [email protected]

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