Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Billie Holiday special on The Blues!

In honor of the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's birthday (4/7/15), I've put together a one-hour special celebrating her work that'll air on Saturday, April 11th at 11pm.  You'll hear from jazz vocalist Amy London, former WNOP disc jockey Robyn Carey-Allgeyer, and musician Ron Esposito who interviews John Szwed about his new book on Billie. There are plenty of songs by Billie Holiday as well as tunes performed by four vocalists who recorded tribute albums of her work...Tony Bennett, Carmen McRae, Rosemary Clooney, andCassandra Wilson.

I talked with Amy London by phone about some of her favorite Billie Holiday songs. In the special, she shares a story about "Me, Myself, and I" which you'll hear, as well as "God Bless the Child." Amy also spoke about "Strange Fruit" and Mark Murphy's performance of "God Bless the Child." You'll find links to those portions of her interview below:

Amy London shares her thoughts about Mark Murphy's rendition of Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child."

Written by John Szwed.

Robyn Carey-Allgeyer talks about the story behind her favorite song recorded by Billie Holiday, "Strange Fruit."

John Szwed wrote a book about the legendary vocalist Billie Holiday entitled Billie Holiday: The Musican and the Myth. Ron Esposito spoke by phone with him about Billie Holiday and four specific songs: "Strange Fruit," "Gloomy Sunday," "My Man," and "God Bless the Child."

In case you're in NYC later this month, here's an appearance by Mr. Szwed:  WHEN THE MOON TURNS GREEN: THE MYTH AND MUSIC OF BILLIE HOLIDAY:A discussion with the writers John Szwed, Farah Jasmine Griffin and Robert G. O’Meally on April 28 at 7:30 p.m., Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Avenue, at 135th Street, Hamilton Heights (taken from

Later in the show, you'll hear four vocalists who recorded Billie Holiday tribute albums: Rosemary Clooney, "Everything Happens to Me;" Cassandra Wilson, "Good Morning Heartache;" Carmen McRae, " Lover Man;" and Tony Bennett's "Some Other Spring."  And finally this Billie Holiday special ends with her performance of "All of Me." 

**Just added: Cassandra Wilson recently appeared on NPR's Jazz Night In America, singing some of the great Billie Holiday music - here's a link to the show: Jazz Night in America - Cassandra Wilson

"Billie Holiday was a keen observer. She saw through lyrics and she saw through people. And she chose what and who she wanted. She sang every song not only as if she had written it herself, but as if she had written it that very morning." - Dr. Maya Angelou...from the Columbia box set, Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944.