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Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday album)

Lady Sings the Blues (Billie Holiday album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Head tilted back,
gardenias in her hair,
Billie sang the blues
like no one else could.

She had lived the blues
with teen-aged parents —
fatherless mostly —
a child scrubbing floors.

Raped by a neighbor
at the age of ten
then put in a home
for wayward girls.

When she was fifteen
she sold her body
to make ends meet
then went to jail.

At Pod’s and Jerry’s
Harlem speakeasy
she sang for the crowd
and brought them to tears.

She sang with the greats
Ellington, Goodman,
Armstrong and her friend
Lester Young on sax.

Like a tapestry,
threads of voice and sax
intertwined and weaved
and became as one.

When I hear her voice,
so melancholy,
crying for her man
it brings me to tears.

She was beautiful,
she was successful
but, abusive men
and drugs pulled her down.

She was Lady Day,
Angel of Harlem.
She charmed us with song
then left us too soon.

Over two hundred
of her recordings
is her legacy.
We miss you,
“Queen of Jazz.”



Note: Excerpt from Fine and Mellow with Lester Young from the CBS production, The Sound of Jazz.

1  Tribute song by the rock group U2