Eleanora Fagan (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), better known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz singer with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education.
Links to Peel
Peel paid little attention to Billie Holiday's music in the early years of his BBC programmes, which reflected the hippy generation's disinterest in older forms of jazz. However, tracks by her would often appear on the BBC jazz shows of Humphrey Lyttelton and Peter Clayton during the 1960s and 1970s. More attention began to be paid to Holiday's work by younger audiences in the 1970s, after Diana Ross of the Supremes had portrayed her in the 1972 Hollywood biopic Lady Sings The Blues, but it wasn't until the 1980s that Peel began playing Billie Holiday tracks on his shows.
Later he named the record label he ran with Clive Selwood after one of her most famous songs, Strange Fruit. Most of the Holiday records he played came from the late 1930s and early 1940s, which many critics regard as the best period of her recording career, and one song, "That Ole Devil Called Love", recorded by her in 1945, made the charts in 1985 in a cover version by Alison Moyet. In 1999, Peel nominated her song "Trav'lin Light", performed with the Paul Whiteman orchestra, as one of the tracks in his Peelenium 1942.
- Peelenium 1942: Trav'lin Light
- 03 April 1985 (Muriel Gray): 'Strange Fruit (LP-The Billie Holiday Songbook)' (Verve)
- 28 October 1985: That Ole Devil Called Love (7") MCA
- 01 September 1987: When A Woman Loves A Man
- 28 December 1996: 'Yesterdays (Compilation CD-Fritz the Cat & Heavy Traffic)' (ZYX) (JP: 'I think she could have infused even Spice Girls songs with a touch of melancholy.')
- 03 June 1999 (Radio Eins): Strange Fruit (v/a album - Dead & Gone #2 - Totenlieder - Songs Of Death) Trikont TRIKONT US-0235
- 15 July 1999: 'A Sailboat In The Moonlight'
- 25 August 1999: Trav'lin Light Peelenium 1942
- 23 October 2001: These Foolish Things (LP – Lady Day: The Best Of Billy Holiday) Columbia
- 24 October 2001: A Fine Romance (Compilation LP – Lady Day: The Best Of Billie Holiday) Columbia