April 7 marked the 95th anniversary of the birth of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. A new tribute album by Grammy-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater reminds us of Billie's lasting musical legacy.
If anyone knows a little something about the music of Billie Holiday, it's Dee Dee Bridgewater. More than 20 years ago, she garnered rave reviews for her role as Holiday in a theatrical production, staged in London and Paris, titled "Lady Day." While working to launch a revival of the show on Broadway, Dee Dee recorded a dozen new arrangements of Holiday classics.
Billie Holiday, who was born Eleanora Fagan in Baltimore, Maryland, rose to fame as a singer of love songs as well as a songwriter in the late-1930s with tunes like "Fine And Mellow," recently revived on "Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love, From Dee Dee Bridgewater."
The album also features the Billie Holiday favorites "Lover Man," "You've Changed," "Don't Explain" and "God Bless The Child," as well as a moving rendition of Holiday's best-selling record, "Strange Fruit"
According to Bridgewater, Billie Holiday has inspired jazz and blues performers the world over. She says, "This album was my way of paying my respect to a vocalist who made it possible for singers like me to carve out a career for ourselves."
On the album Dee Dee Bridgewater sings the jazz standard, "All Of Me," once recorded by Billie Holiday with saxophonist Lester Young. It features Dee Dee's "dream band," comprised of pianist Edsel Gomez, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Lewis Nash, and James Carter on saxophone, flute and clarinet.