Easter 2015 marks more than two millenia since Jesus Christ rose from the dead so we could all be forgiven for our sins.
To celebrate Easter 2015, Christians around the world will consume a concoction of cocoa and sugar, and some of them will wear really big hats when they do it.
But in addition to the birth of Christ and, well, time as we know it, Easter 2015 is for many a time to celebrate another landmark event in the history of humankind: the birth of Billie Holiday.
Easter 2015 marks exactly 100 years since that Wednesday, April 7, 1915 when 15-year-old Clarence Holiday and 13-year-old Sadie Fagan welcomed baby Eleanora.
The BBC, the Kennedy Center, and the Apollo Theatre are just a few of the cultural institutions honoring that event over the Easter 2015 weekend.
On Friday, April 3, the BBC will commemorate the birth of Lady Day with an evening of tributes entitled Friday Night is Music: 100 Years of Billie Holiday. On Monday, April 6, the Apollo will honor the singer by giving her a star on its Walk of Fame, Billboardreports.
“Why Billie Holiday’s birth would be an event monumental enough to overshadow Easter 2015 can only be explained by one factor: her ability to covey emotion through song.”
As a young black girl in racially divided and poverty-stricken East Baltimore, Eleanora Fagan seemed destined to become a casualty of the wanton racism and violence she encountered in her early life.
Later, when she began touring the country with an all-white band, the racism, sexism and abuse – sexual, physical and systemic – worsened.
But short of being victimized, Billie Holiday responded to her circumstances by articulating, in a way only she could, what life was for a lonely black woman with a police record in the 1940s.
The poignancy with which she depicted her experience left an everlasting impact on popular music.
When Frank Sinatra first heard Lady Day at the Uptown House in 1939, he was so entranced he modeled his own singing after hers. He’d later call her “the most important influence on American popular singing,”
And when 9-year-old Roberta Anderson heard Billie Holiday, she decided, then and there, to become a singer. (Ms. Anderson is now better known as Joni Mitchell).
As we gather for Easter 2015, we mark an event that shaped Western civilization forever, the resurrection of Christ. But as we commemorate that event by devouring rabbit-shaped slabs of chocolate, let us remember that His is but one of the births that forever shaped our cultural identity.
[Photo Credit: www.biography.com]