Tara's Reviews > Religion Around Billie Holiday

Religion Around Billie Holiday by Tracy Fessenden
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really liked it

Billie Holiday didn't come to music through the gospel church route like Aretha Franklin and many others. So I was both intrigued and a little sceptical about the premise of this book, but I needn't have worried. Tracey Fessenden persuasively argues for the young Eleanora Fagan's extended stay in a Catholic girl's home (in one of many cruel ironies that would shape Holiday's life, she was sent there after being raped) as an integral part of her musical education, and in forming her own identity as both saint and sinner in the Mary Magdalene vein. While sentimentalists generally focus on her as a tragic heroine, and musicologists prefer to emphasise her artistry, Fessenden suggests that both interpretations can, and should co-exist. She also explores the role of religion in the history of jazz and of black America. Beautifully written, this book is rather like a jazz symphony that you can riff on - or indeed, the transcendent stylings of Lady Day herself.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 22, 2018 – Shelved
June 22, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read

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