The bluesy, gutsy, no-holds-barred memoir of jazz legend Billie Holiday.
Billie Holiday was born in 1915. She began singing in jazz clubs in Harlem while still a teenager, never undergoing technical training or even learning to read music. Mainstream success followed with hits like Summertime, Autumn in New York and Strange Fruit. She suffered personal difficulties, including an opium addiction, exploitation by managers and club owners, and racism in the Southern States while touring. To this day she is still considered the greatest jazz singer of all time. She died in 1959, aged 44.
Its value is in its witness to the grinding humiliation of the
racism that tainted every moment of her louche life -- John Lahr *
London Review of Books *
A wrenchingly authentic account of Holiday's turbulent trajectory from abused child to jazz genius -- Jane Shilling * Daily Mail *
Her troubles are long behind her now. Her genius however, shows no sign of dimming any time soon. -- Nick Hornby * Sunday Times *
A searing account of her life as a brilliant artist, a heroin addict, simultaneously worshipped as a siren of sorrow and persecuted by a legal system structured by systemic racism. Booze runs like a glimmering ribbon through these pages - she even makes moonshine from potato peelings while incarcerated - but Holiday emerges as a figure far more nuanced and human than her mythic image. -- Guardian * Leslie Jamison *