Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival Introduced By Billie Holiday Show

Billie Holiday Centenary Celebrations At Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Cassandra Wilson Sings The Blues

The 100th birthday of the great blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday is to be celebrated at Harlem’s Apollo Theater next month.

Cassandra Wilson will be performing Holiday’s most memorable songs on April 10 in a tribute concert to the artist, and the never-forgotten star will be commemorated on the theater’s Walk of Fame on April 6, the day before Holiday’s actual date of birth. Her name will join the likes of James Brown and Louis Armstrong.

As CBS Local reports, Billie Holiday performed over two dozen times at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Born in 1915, Billie sadly passed away at the age of 44. In addition to Grammy Award-winner Cassandra Wilson’s performance (which marks also the release of Wilson’s Holiday-dedicated album “Coming Forth By Day”), the Apollo Theater has teamed up with Absolutely Live Entertainment and the Sony-owned Legacy Recordings for further events commemorating the unforgettable musical contribution of Billie Holiday.

As the Inquisitr reported last year, the Apollo Theater has played host to some of the biggest names in the music industry, including not just Billie Holiday, but Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and more recently Pharrell Williams. As the Source reports, Mike Shepard, executive director of the Apollo Theater, felt the 100th birthday celebration of Billie Holiday only natural.

“The Walk of Fame is our way of paying tribute to the Apollo Legends who have transformed the American entertainment landscape. Billie Holiday without a doubt is the personification of this. Her voice and presence permeated mainstream culture which lead to her becoming the most influential jazz singer of her day and among the most esteemed vocalists of the century. These initiatives serve as part of the Apollo’s mission to use its legacy to inform and support contemporary artists.”

Indeed, Billie Holiday is a name which refuses to die in the music industry. You need only go to any jazz club to hear countless covers of her most well-known songs, let alone listen to recordings of Holiday to understand her influence on modern pop phrasing and tempo. Born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, dead at too-young an age in New York City – as ABC news reports, Holiday’s was a life which certainly warranted the 1972 film adaptation of her autobiography, Lady Sings The Blues, given the abusive relationships, the alcohol, and the drugs.

The Apollo Theater’s centenary celebration of Billie Holiday precedes the annual Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival, from May 4 to 9. The festival observes the clubs and other venues that led to Harlem being deemed the Jazz Mecca. And there’s no better lady to introduce such a dedication to jazz than the late, great Billie Holiday.

[Image courtesy of BET]

Comments