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Billie Holiday

Jazz Singer

Let’s let critic Nat Hentoff, who attended Billie Holiday’s 1956 two-concert event, tell the story: “The beat flowed in her uniquely sinuous supple way of moving the story along; the words became her own experiences; and coursing through it all was Lady’s sound—a texture simultaneously steel-edged and yet soft inside; a voice that was almost unbearably wise in disillusion and yet still childlike, again at the center. The audience was hers from before she sang, greeting her and saying goodbye with heavy, loving applause. And at one time, the musicians, too, applauded. It was a night when Billie was on top, undeniably the best and most honest jazz singer alive.”

No two people on earth are alike, and it's got to be that way in music or it isn’t music.

— BILLE HOLIDAY

From the Archives

Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall’s performance history database covers more than 50,000 concerts and events that occurred at Carnegie Hall from its opening in 1891 to the present. Explore events related to Billie Holiday (these links will open in a new tab with the performance history search tools):

Listen to Billie Holiday

This playlist celebrates Billie Holiday’s remarkable association with Carnegie Hall. Her smokey vocal tone and signature phrasing makes her an artist who doesn’t just sing a song—she feels it. You will too. Billie Holiday is a Carnegie Hall Icon—listen to hear why. Listen on Apple Music and Spotify.

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