Today's birthday, the incomparable jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915-1959), had her own style and her own magic. She endured an impoverished childhood as Eleonora Fagan in Baltimore, Maryland to become a world legend.
"Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married," she explained. "He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three."
"Lady Day" began singing in small Harlem clubs and chose the stage name Billie after movie star Billie Dove. "Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough," she said.
Holiday recorded her first song in 1933 with clarinetist Benny Goodman, then joined Count Basie's band. She made jazz history by collaborating with brilliant saxophonist Lester Young.
"God has blessed you when he lets you believe in somebody," she once said.
With no musical training and often wearing her trademark white gardenias in her hair, Holiday performed magic on stage. She sang with the distinctive "behind the beat phrasing" and haunting, melancholy passion, as if she lived every word she sang.
About her technique, she said, "The whole basis for my singing is feeling. Unless I feel something, I canít sing."
With the pure honesty of her hard life in her voice, her heart shone through on each song. Holiday's timeless artistry changed musical interpretation forever.
"You just feel it," she believed, "and when you sing it other people can feel something too."
You got it all because of your uniqueness.