Happy Birthday Eleanora Fagan (i.e., Billie Holiday)!

On April 7 in 1915, Eleanora Fagan was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a young 13-year-old girl, Eleanora learned songs and began singing while working in a brothel. After getting arrested and serving time in a workhouse, the girl began seeking a singing career and adopted her new first name from the actress Billie Dove and her last name from a jazz guitarist who was her father, Clarence Halliday (although that name later transformed into “Holiday”).

By 1946, Billie Holiday was so well-known for her singing that she appeared in the film New Orleans with Louis Armstrong, where she sang “The Blues are Brewin’.”

After a lifetime of facing racism, drug abuse, drinking, and abusive men, Holiday died in 1959 suffering from liver and heart disease. She was only 44. While she was in the hospital dying, police raided her room and arrested her for drug possession. Despite her troubled life, she had a unique influence on American music, much like Louis Armstrong. Thanks Eleanora.

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