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Lady Sings The Blues

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,383 ratings  ·  140 reviews
This work presents the Billie Holiday story - her rise to the top from the slums and the streets, to the eventual slide down.
Paperback, 170 pages
Published January 29th 2003 by Parenthèses (first published 1956)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Philippe Malzieu
there are voices which upset you. a particular tessitura which speaks to you. I remember the last Sarah Vaugahn's concert in France. The very sizeable newspaper "Le Monde" titrated : is it still necessary to listen to Sarah Vaughan? Appalling idiot. She was brilliant. She died few time after. And I remind to Montserrat Caballe, Waltraud Meier, to Chet Baker… All these singers who spoke directly in the heart.
Billie, I can only listen to her records.
There are in its voice so much sensuality and
Feb 21, 2008 Granny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jazz buffs and those interested in African-American history
Recommended to Granny by: my dear late mom
Shelves: non-fiction
My mom was a jazz band singer in the same era as Billie Holiday. All the young singers were in awe of Billie, according to Mom, but her addiction was well-known. Her nickname in the music trade was "Miss Needles." The music industry in the late 1930's and early 1940's was one of the few places where whites and African-Americans could mingle freely -- Mom was white and worked with many persons of color. Unfortunately, once off stage and off the work sites, in the southern cities where they worked ...more
It helps to have some historical perspective on this book as you read it. Yes, it's a sad tale of the rise and struggles of an amazing jazz legend and you can't help but hear the voice of Billy as the story unfolds (I could not resist playing her music on my IPod in the background). But it's also important to keep in mind that the book is not always precisely truthful, perhaps for lots of personal, historical, and publishing reasons. I think it's best read for the general history, impressions/tr ...more
Eleanora Fagan was born April 7, 1915. Her mother was only 13 and her father was pretty much absent. Eleanora was raised by family while her mother worked; her childhood was painful and short. At 13 Eleanora was working as a prostitute, by 14 she was singing her unique style of jazz as Billie Holiday in Brooklyn clubs. Racism and drug addiction dogged her for most of her career but her unyielding spirit could never by broken.

In "Lady Sings the Blues" Billie Holiday tells us her story in her own
Normally, I would mark this book as a 3, possibly 4, star work, but there are two severe complications in that regard. One, Holiday herself claimed to have never read the book, or have much to do with it; it stands to reason that her attitude is direclty related to fact two, which is that many pieces of this particular story have been contradicted and/or proven false by historians and contemporaries.

As a fan of Holiday and her art, this is a maddening situation, as her truth was stranger, and s
Doris Jean
Apr 17, 2015 Doris Jean rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all who like biographies, memoirs, musicians.
Shelves: biography, memoir
She was an unusually interesting unique person. Too bad she fell down the drug addict hole, dying with heroin for her next shot strapped to her thigh. I prefer her as a musician rather than as an author. This was a patchy book with missing pieces. I was aware that there was more than one author since the writing flow and style was often jerky.

Also, this book seemed to me to be a mix of authenticity and untruth. I say "untruth" because there were several incorrect assertions, for one example, wh
I absolutely loved this book! It felt like Billie was talking to me herself. Next to Ella she is my favourite Jazz singer. I love her versions of Good Morning Heartache and Crazy He Calls Me.
Willem van den Oever
Without a doubt one of the most recognizable voices in the jazz-scene (and possibly the most powerful), Billie Holiday’s autobiography is just as wonderful and emotional as her vocal work.
Lady Sings the Blues” is as diverse, bewildering and touching as her music. There are great moments of triumph and seemingly endless times of hardship, tragedy and sadness. From her childhood, during which she hardly knew about her father and she’d spend most of her time running errands for a local whorehouse,
It's very difficult to know what to say about this memoir, since it wasn't exactly written by Billie Holiday, but by her friend William Dufty, who based it on interviews and other conversations with her. This review at the San Francisco Chronicle says that the book is full of "factual inaccuracies and exaggerations" but "captures [Holiday's] tart voice and unflinching eye," and that Dufty's "aim was to let Holiday tell her story her way." It sounds like a lot of the events didn't happen as descr ...more
Lejdi peva bluz je knjiga koju bih preporučila onima
1. koji vole i cene Bili Holidej te žele da steknu bolji uvid u njen tragični život i celu bluz / džez scenu tog perioda
2. koji su strastveni ljubitelje biografija in general ( kao što sam ja)

Bilo je teško oceniti ovu knjigu....u pitanju je ipak nečiji život a smatram da je nerealno isti karakterisati sa dosadno/uzbudljivo, dobro/ loše, 1/2//5 zvezdica..

Pa evo negativnih strana:
Ono što je presudilo u korist prosečne ocene jeste činjenica da,
Bruce Sheridan
Hated the film starring Diana Ross. Bought the paperback years ago for a couple of dollars but didn't read it until now. Yes, Billie is fast and loose with some facts - her mother almost certainly was 18 or 19 when Billie was born, not 13 as Billie claims. Then there's the limitations arising from 1) the hurry to publish in order to generate money to defend drug charges and 2) the suppression of 20-30% of the original manuscript by folks with business interests in Lady Day. None of those factors ...more
I might have over rated it by a star... I'm currently enamoured with memoirs. Lady's memoir is particularly honest and gritty at the same time. It provides a vivid picture of racism and poverty that most black people went through in the middle twentieth century. My father tells me he remembers seeing separate bathrooms and water fountains when his parents went to Memphis for a vacation...
I digress, Billy Holiday has a lust for life and feels emotions deeply. Trying to help her father and moth
It's irrelevant whether Billie Holiday's telling of her own life is inaccurate or described with the help of a ghostwriter: as Holiday's story, its hers to tell, and she has no reservations about telling it how she wants it to be heard. Like her singing voice, her story-telling voice is unique and all her own. At its core is a knowledge of her own self-worth, which seems to be the lesson of this book. She learned at an early age that nobody was going to value her more than herself and that money ...more
Liz Echavarria
Hoodwinked by life...

I gave this book four stars because when I read about the inaccuracies and false stories in her memoir I just didn't know how to approach the book. I wanted to read a factual version of her life but I settled for thinking of this book as a work of fiction inspired by the life of Billie Holiday. Reading from another source and confirmed by the book, I learned that this talented woman had a fascinating but tragic existence due to personal abuse with drugs, men, and the injusti
Although this book has been criticized as inaccurate and too influenced by the point of view of the ghostwriter, William Dufty, in the end it is the only autobiography of Billie Holiday in existence. This book in written in the down-to-earth conversational voice of Ms. Holiday herself. This book gave me what I was hoping to find in Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth: the point of view of the artist herself, insight into her childhood and young adulthood, the discrimination she suffered in ...more
This is the first autobiography I have read and I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. Although I would not consider myself a jazz enthusiast by any means, I was more drawn to Billie's life story and her struggle with drug addiction. The saying about life imitating art crossed my mind repeatedly as I read this book. All of the societal stigmas and hardships Billie endured being a poor black woman during the Depression era effectively helped produce the most soulful, emotional music that cemented ...more
Purists will blast this book for not being 100% accurate, but I think that's missing the point. This is the truth as Billie Holiday saw it, not necessarily The Way Things Really Were. And isn't everyone's version of their own life like that? Your life is about your interpretation and the way you see things, not the way a historian would chronicle it.

Plus, Billie was a jazz singer. She improvised and she emoted. She was no-holds-barred authentic. She had a unique vocal style, and her literary voi
A wonderful read. Lady Day was strong, vulnerable, funny and a very smart person. She had a big heart and an enormous gift. It was a tragic day the day she died. But through her singing and through these words she lives on without the vulnerability. A truly amazing person!
At times rambling, jumbled and disjointed, this nevertheless packs a punch. Despite some quibbles on factual details, you can't help but feel the authenticity of Holiday's voice and persona. In spite of being decades too late, you find yourself rooting for Holiday to find that person who can save her, who will swoop down and rescue this vibrant, tough-as-nails, ridiculously talented woman. It's also eerie and prescient, how so many of the things Holiday wrote about over 50 years ago are still is ...more
Disclaimer first: I received my copy of this book free as part of a first reads giveaway.

This book is the 50th anniversary edition. I hadn't read the first but I liked the forward and the explanation of ghost writing. Not everyone has the right words to tell their story and if a ghost writer can help with that, I'm good with it. This is Billie's story, probably most of her words, fine tuned by a ghost writer.

I figure everyone has their own version of the truth. The time she was writing about, I
Sean O
The most coherent and feeling of the Jazz memoirs, and among the more authentic autobiographies I've read. It's only superior is the similarly ghost-written "My Life in France" by Julia Child.

Holiday was a natural storyteller, accustomed to telling stories of heartbreak and hope. William Dufty, her ghostwriter, was a close friend, and he does a good job capturing Holiday's anger and hope.

She has been accused of white-washing her story, but she pulls few punches. She may fudge facts, but she do
In Billie Holiday's own words, this book is a great look into the era of black migration from the south to northern cities. Jacob Lawrence's art of Harlem, James Baldwin's writing, these were epic artists in trying times. And Billie had it really bad, as a woman in a man's entertainment business, a black woman in a white-dominated society, and an artist with a 5th grade education. Telling her story, she seems more like a prize fighter than a singer. Such a tragic tale told straight from the Lady ...more
This is a somewhat difficult book to evaluate. The story of her life is intense and ultimately tragic, yet the kernel of triumph is that she was able to emerge despite the most challenging of circumstances that would crush anyone. The book is written in Billie's own voice; great because you get the real feel of this woman, but I think her co-author could have done so much more to flesh out some of the details, which is where the book fell flat. She endured some unimaginable circumstances - raped ...more
I had some problems with this book.

The lingo of the 1950s was not always easy to understand for me.

On top of that I, as a male European born in the 60s, obviously have a very different cultural background than a female citizen of the United States, who was born in 1915. The text is not able to bridge this gap completely, which I find unfortunate.

As the authors mentioned Billie Holiday with William Dufty. Which parts were written by whom, I can not identify.

The foreword was written by David Ritz.
I came to appreciate Billie's vocal styling very slowly. In my early 20's I frequented a (pre-Starbucks) café where the proprietor adored her and put her discs in the mix. I'd be chatting or playing cards when, here comes that lady with the weird voice again. "Who is that??" I'd ask my friends, who were all studying music at the time.

"Billie Holiday" they'd intone together.

Then maybe half an hour later she'd come up again, I'd ask again, they'd intone the answer again. These friends of mine, who
Natti R
I really enjoyed reading about the life of Lady Day. If I could give the book 3 1/2 stars I would. In the beginning chapters, I felt as if I were sitting with her on her front porch on a nice summer evening, listening to her regale of stories from her past. However, towards the end of her tales, I felt that I was getting lost in a repetitive set of tirades involving her drug escapades and stints with the law, and less about her amazing talent, musical performances, and life. What started out as ...more
I received this book for free from Goodreads first reads program.

This is a fascinating book. The overall narrative of Billie Holiday's life is very conversational and you get a good sense of her personality in how her stories are told. This 50th anniversary edition also has a really interesting introduction that discusses the truthfulness of the book and a special discography section with album recommendations. It is a very interesting book and I highly recommend it.
Because I have read this book, I understand Billie. Completely. I understand why all of the brilliant musicians that followed in her footsteps and mentioned her as a muse (Frank Sinatra and Janis Joplin to name a few) were who they are. Billie's tragedy and triumph are executed so eloquently in this book, but stay true to Lady Day and her lingo/upbringing. There's nothing terribly fancy in this book; when it comes down to it, it's all Billie. It's as if she's having a conversation with you herse ...more
my first confrontation with Balck music history. the book is an easy read, it takes you in a journey throughout Bellie Holiday's life. I absolutely lived her sadness and pain through the book, although her story came to us through a mediate who happen to be a while male I think the reader still can hear Holiday's voice between the lines, hence reieve clearly the messages she wanted to deliver.
I couldn't put this book down and read it really quickly. Almost too quickly. And...I made sure to listen to all her music while reading. The first chapter, alone, will rock your socks off. The story of this iconic woman is the story of music and race in America; and this America she writes of is raw and true and should be ashamed of itself. Her voice was untrained and magical. Often, she was even unsure of what it would do. She was a part of the birth of jazz, along with Count Basie, Lester You ...more
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Billie Holiday was an American jazz singer and songwriter.

Nicknamed Lady Day by her sometime collaborator Lester Young, Holiday was a seminal influence on jazz, and pop singers' critic John Bush wrote that she "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." Her vocal style — strongly inspired by instrumentalists — pioneered a new way of manipulating wording and tempo, and also popularized a more
More about Billie Holiday...

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“Everyones got to be different. You can't copy anybody and end up with anything. If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling. And without feeling, whatever you do amounts to nothing.” 17 likes
“In this country, don’t forget, a habit is no damn private hell. There’s no solitary confinement outside of jail. A habit is hell for those you love. And in this country it’s the worst kind of hell for those who love you.” 8 likes
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