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Fun Facts about Billie Holiday

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Did you know the Billie Holiday wasn't her real name? Do you what her birth name was? Did you know that she didn't begin her career as a solo singer? Find out interesting facts below about the hardships and the successes of this talented jazz musician.

Fun Fact 1 Billie Holiday's birth name was Eleanora Fagan. She was born on April 7th, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Fun Fact 2 Billie Holiday was a famous jazz singer. She was also recognized as a songwriter and actress.

Fun Fact 3: Billie Holiday's parents were called Sarah (Sadie) and Clarence. Her childhood wasn't easy as her father left when she was young. Her mother, Sarah, didn't have the support of her parents so Billie was sent to stay her aunt in Baltimore.

Fun Fact 4: Billie Holiday often stayed with her aunt or her aunt's mother-in-law as her own mother had to work. This meant that she didn't spend a great deal of time with her mom during the early years of her life. Her mother took on transportations jobs working on passenger railroads.

Fun Fact 5: Billie Holiday had a very difficult time during her childhood years. She suffered abuse which dramatically affected these years of her life. After getting herself into trouble with the law, she was sent to prison for a short time, along with her mother, in 1929.

Fun Fact 6: Billie Holiday moved to Harlem and this is where her music career started. She began singing in different clubs. She stared working with Kenneth Hollan who played the tenor sax. They performed together for around two years.

Fun Fact 7: A producer, by the name of John Hammond, heard Billie Holiday sing in 1933 and he arranged for her to produce her recording debut when she was 18 years old.

Fun Fact 8: Billie Holiday's first hit song was called 'Your Mother's Son-In-Law'. This song sold approximately 300 copies. Not long after she produced 'Riffin' the Scotch' which did far better, selling around 5000 copies.

Fun Fact 9: Billie Holiday received an acting role in 1935. She starred in 'Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life' by Duke Ellington. She played the part of an abused woman and she sang a song called 'Saddest Tale'.

Fun Fact 10: After a period of singing pop songs with Teddy Wilson, including 'What a Little Moonlight Can Do' and 'Miss Brown to You', Billie Holiday began her career as a solo artist.

Fun Fact 11: As a respected jazz singer, Billie Holiday is believed to have influenced the development of jazz music greatly during her years singing alongside Teddy Wilson and also as a solo artist. She didn't get paid a great deal for her work despite her musically success! She was paid a flat fee as opposed to royalties.

Fun Fact 12: Billie Holiday had a friend whom she nicknamed 'Prez'. His real name was Lester Young and he was a tenor saxophonist. They often performed together. Lester was the person who nicknamed her 'Lady Day'.

Fun Fact 13: Billie Holiday was a successful jazz musician, she sang many hit songs including 'Summertime' which was became a hit in 1936. The song had derived a few years before in an opera called 'Porgy and Bess'.

Fun Fact 14: One of her best-selling hits was a song called 'Strange Fruit' which she recorded for Commodore. The song reminded her greatly of her father's death and she wrote about these memories in her autobiography.

Fun Fact 15: A film was released in 1972 called 'Lady Sings the Blues' which was based on Billie Holiday's autobiography. Diana Ross played the famous American jazz musician and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

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