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!

Album Preview: “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss” by Sinéad O’Connor

I'm Not Bossy, I'm the BossAlbum
I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss

Artist
Sinéad O’Connor

Release Date
August 12, 2014

Label
Nettwerk Records

Pre-order Link
Pre-order Album

Preview
We will soon see the release of Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor‘s tenth studio album. I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss will be released on August 12th and has been produced by O’Connor’s longtime producer and once-husband John Reynolds. I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss promises to deliver on the artist’s characteristic style and lyricism on the topic of all things love, sex, and pop music.

I Do Not Want What I Haven't GotSinéad O’Connor was launched into worldwide fame in the early 1990s after her release of I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. The album contained a cover of Prince‘s 1985 “Nothing Compares 2 U.” The song existed in obscurity before Sinéad O’Connor’s cover, and it soon The Lion and the Cobrabecame a worldwide hit. In the following decade, O’Connor would release several more albums and become an icon of critical acclaim and cultural controversy.

I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss appears to be an example of Sinéad O’Connor doing what she does best. In a first listen review,So Far ... The Best Of NPR spoke on the album: “O’Connor works in mostly familiar musical territory on I’m Not Bossy: multi-tracked vocals, folk flourishes, danceable beats amped up with rock attitude. Newly prominent in her mix is a strong blues element.” Watch the official music video for “Take Me To Church,” the first single from I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss below and discover the hype for yourself.

Pre-order your copy of I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss at Murfie today! Each CD comes with unlimited streaming (Web, iOS, Android, Sonos) and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC.

Curious CDs

This weeks’s most interesting album was discovered in the International genre of our marketplace. Although these songs originate overseas, many folks can relate quite well.

Irish Drinking Songs (Various Artists)

MI0000635172The Facts:

  • This album could be interpreted as musical encouragement for getting sloshed
  • Track names on this classic range from “Beer, Beer, Beer” to “Mountain Dew”,  all the way to “Maloney Wants a Drink”
  • You don’t need to be Irish to enjoy nostalgic feelings evoked from drunkenly singing along with friends

We at Murfie would never condone drinking irresponsibly. We do however approve of loosening up a bit, and doing so while listening to an album like this one ;-)