Few jazz singers have become icons like Billie Holiday. In With Billie, we hear the voices of those people who knew Billie best: piano players and dancers, pimps and junkies, lovers and narcs, producers and critics, each recalling intimate stories of the Billie they knew. What emerges is a portrait of a complex, contradictory, enthralling woman, a woman who — contrary to myth — knew what she wanted and what really mattered to her. Julia Blackburn has pieced together an oral history of this jazz great, creating a unique and fascinating view of an astonishing woman.
About the Author
Julia Blackburn is the author of three books of nonfiction, Charles Waterton, The Emperor’s Last Island, and Daisy Bates in the Desert, and of two novels, The Book of Colorand The Leper’s Companions, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She lives in England.
“Nowhere else is the context of her life so vividly captured.” —Toni Morrison
"With Billie paints a sympathetic and incisive portrait of the profoundly gifted, charismatic singer known as Lady Day.”—Francine Prose, O Magazine
“Blackburn nicely evokes the players around HolidayÉ. Their often self-serving stories are fascinating for their ordinariness.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Essential reading for those who are curious about the woman behind the voice.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A marvelous web of characters and tales, full of vigor and color, in which Billie Holiday emerges in all her independent, awkward, variegated glory. . . . Moving, revealing and quite unforgettable.”—The Economist
“This addition to the tide of Billie Holiday books is extremely welcome. Nowhere else is the context of her life and work so vividly captured.” —Toni Morrison
"At last, a portrait of the artist and person called Billie Holiday. This extraordinary book completes her story." —Mike Figgis
“Billie Holiday was — and is — a singer who stays in the mind of everyone who heard her. Like all jazz musicians, she sang about who she was at the moment and during all that preceded that moment. Julia Blackburn’s With Billie tells Billie’s own stories of that life and this book becomes part of the music.” —Nat Hentoff