Your Dose of Cool: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday is one of the most influential singers and songwriters in jazz history. Frank Sinatra once said of Billie, “With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me.”

Over the course of her career, Billie sang with swing pianist Teddy Wilson, saxophonist Lester Young (who nicknamed Billie “Lady Day”), Count Basie and his Orchestra, and big band leader Artie Shaw.

billie holiday love songsBillie’s life was not easy by any means. She was born in Philadelphia on April 7th, 1915, to a young mother and absent father. She was left in the care of others for the majority of her childhood.  At age 13, Billie moved to Harlem with her mother, where they both worked as prostitutes. In 1929, their brothel was raided and the two were sent to prison. Billie was released at age 14 and began singing in nightclubs while still in Harlem.

As her presence grew, Billie painted her singer persona as a woman unlucky at love. Her voice was soft but powerful, somewhat weathered from wear—and full of pain, heartbreak, and longing. Even at her young age, she had many experiences to sing about, and she wanted her voice to be like a jazz instrument. Her main influences were Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.

Racial equality was nowhere in sight during Billie’s time. She was of mixed ancestry, including African-American and Irish, and the color of her skin was unjustly used to treat her differently. Even as a featured singer, she had to enter into some nightclubs and venues through the back door or kitchen entrance. At times she wasn’t allowed to stand with the rest of the band on stage. People heckled her from the crowd and her angry responses were seen as “unprofessional.” She didn’t receive royalties for her recorded works, and was paid in flat fees. So when singles like “I Cried For You” sold 15,000 copies, she didn’t receive payment to match the work’s wildly popular reception.

billie holiday's greatest hitsAs an adult, Billie suffered from drug addiction and was arrested multiple times, even on her deathbed. She passed away on July 17th, 1959 from complications caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Even up to her death, Billie was hugely popular as a jazz singer and sold out entire venues when she performed. Her recorded works are some of the most treasured for jazz collectors.

Check out our selection of Billie Holiday albums on Murfie and get some Lady Day in your collection!

Music for Grandparents Day

Most of us here at Murfie have been lucky enough to spend time with our Grandparents (and some of our Great-Grandparents as well!). Music is something that can easily be tied to memories, and musical memories of our Grandparents are some of the best ones.

In honor of Grandparents Day, Sunday, Sept. 7th, here are some albums that remind us of Grandma and Grandpa!

Lawrence WelkMatt: Lawrence Welk – 22 Big Band Favorites  – “My grandparents were married during the Great Depression, so the big band music of that era, up and through World War II, was always their favorite. Dancing to big band music was one of their favorite activities. When visiting Grandma and Grandpa’s house as kids, my brother and I were forced to watch the Lawrence Welk show that aired on public television. WeJohnny Cash would reluctantly sit through the show—accordion solos and all—and rejoice when the show ended. In spite of my disdain for the TV show, big band music, particularly that by Lawrence Welk and his band, now bring back fond memories of my Grandparents.”

Andrew: Johnny Cash – 16 Biggest Hits “I was not at all shocked to discover one day that my grandmother owned no fewer than three copies of Johnny Cash’s 16 Biggest Hits.”

The BeatlesKayla: The Beatles – 1 “My grandpa always told a story about when The Beatles visited Milwaukee. He said that everyone lined the street to watch the fab four drive by, and when they passed my grandpa, grandma, and their young children, they slowed down and complimented their beautiful family. My grandma would always say ‘Oh, Bruce!’ whenever she caught him telling me stories like that, so I’m not exactly sure if it’s true, but I like to think it is. :) The TransporterI got my grandpa this Beatles 1 compilation, and I’ll never forget showing him how to put the CD in the player, turn it on, and press play. He immediately recognized and started singing along with the song ‘Love Me Do.'”

Steve: The Transporter (Original Motion Picture Score) “Once upon a time, I was visiting my Grandma in California and she asked me if I would like to watch her favorite movie. I was all prepared for something out of the black and white era, when she99020-large proceeded to pull ‘Transporter 3’ up on DVR.”

Jeff: Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer “This is terrible, but the only song I can think of is ‘Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.'”

Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler - Neck and NeckPete: Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler – Neck and Neck “My grandpa loves this album. I remember buying the CD for his birthday and he told me recently that he still plays it.”

Happy Grandparents Day from the crew at Murfie! Show Grandma and Grandpa lots of love!

Photo credit: “Child pushing grandmother on plastic tricycle” by Catherine Scott-Matti.

Vote! Which Decades Would You Flash Back To?

We invented a time machine here at Murfie! (Okay, this is not 100% true—but stay with me here!)

This time machine lets you re-visit any decade you want (back to the 1940s—it’s our beta version), and it’ll take you on a tour of the best, most ground-breaking concerts ever to happen. If you got the chance, what decades would you re-visit? You can choose more than one!

This Week in Music History (April 24th-30th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

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4/24- After hearing Ray Charles perform the classic tune “Georgia on My Mind”, the Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives decided to make it their official State Song  on this date in 1979. Ray Charles was born in Georgia, of course.

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4/25- Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the hit band TLC was tragically killed from injuries that resulted from a car accident in Honduras on this day in 2002. Several albums featuring Lopes would be released posthumously, including Eye Legacy.

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4/26- On this day in 1964, The Beatles headlined at The New Musical Express Annual Poll Winner’s Concert. They performed many hits, including “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. Groovy!

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4/27- The Eagles began playing shows for their Hell Freezes Over tour on this day in 1994. Recordings from this series of shows would later be used to create their second live album, Hell Freezes Over, which stayed at #1 on the Billboard album charts for two weeks.

138-large4/28- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on this day in 1999. Talk about runnin’ down a dream!124469-large

4/29- Duke Ellington was born on this day in 1899. Duke majorly contributed to the big band music scene for over 50 years, and continues to be a key influence in jazz to this day.

205-large4/30- On this day in 2005, The Dave Matthews Band agreed to pay $200,000 in a lawsuit settlement. The band & their bus driver were being charged for dumping human waste from their tour bus onto a boatload of tourists while the bus was crossing a bridge over the Chicago River. Splash!!!

Oh, you wanna own any of these albums, or hear ‘em in lossless format? Well whaddya know…we just so happen to have them for sale! Right now these titles start at just $1!