Category: Billie Holiday

  • Pastoral Scene of the Gallant South

    Content warning: graphic images of racial violence. “Strange Fruit” was written by a longtime English teacher at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, Abel Meeropol in 1937 (shown above with his sons Robert and Michael, the biological children of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, whom Abel and his wife adopted after the Rosenbergs’ execution). The […]

  • How Billie Sang

    Billie Holiday began singing in Harlem jazz clubs at sixteen, and made her first recordings in 1933, at the age of eighteen. By the time she returned to the studio in 1935, she was a revelation — neither the white balladeers who dominated the Hit Parade nor the black blues queens from whose ranks she […]

  • The Evolution of Bebop

    (Bird on Money, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s tribute to Charlie Parker.) The song “Cherokee,” a fox-trot by the English dance-band leader Ray Noble: Charlie Parker’s version: Parker said that, when playing “Cherokee,” he realized that the 12 semitones in any scale could take a piece of music from one key into any other, a realization that Arnold […]