Synopses & Reviews
Here are the voices of piano players and dancers, pimps and junkies, producers and critics, narcotics agents, friends, lovers, and fellow musicians. Their intimate, illuminating stories about Lady Day are deftly woven into a riveting narrative that provides us with a more complete and complex picture of Billie Holiday than any we have had before. They tell of her chaotic childhood in Baltimore, her solitary arrival in Harlem at 14, her rise to fame and the notoriety that followed on its heels. We hear about the depth of her generosity and courage; her wild sense of humor; her emotional troubles and addictions; and through it all, about the singular passion she brought to the act, and art, of singing. A symphony of remarkable voices all speaking with luminous immediacy, With Billie is a powerfully evocative portrait of one of the most revered figures in the world of jazz.
Few jazz singers have become icons like Billie Holiday. In With Billie, we hear the voices of those people who knew Billie best: piano players and dancers, pimps and junkies, lovers and narcs, producers and critics, each recalling intimate stories of the Billie they knew. What emerges is a portrait of a complex, contradictory, enthralling woman, a woman who — contrary to myth — knew what she wanted and what really mattered to her. Julia Blackburn has pieced together an oral history of this jazz great, creating a unique and fascinating view of an astonishing woman.
About the Author
Julia Blackburn is the author of three books of nonfiction, Charles Waterton, The Emperors Last Island, and Daisy Bates in the Desert, and of two novels, The Book of Color and The Lepers Companions, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She lives in England.