An Eternal Jazz Legend – Upcoming Documentary: Billie
November 14, 2020

Written by Ellie Mckinsey

An Eternal Jazz Legend Will Be Featured in the Upcoming Documentary: Billie

Billie Holiday is a famous jazz singer whose music thrills modern audiences to this day. There is so much excitement surrounding the highly anticipated film Billie, which was partially inspired by countless interviews that had never been seen by the general public. The film will not only cover Holiday’s extremely successful musical career, as well as her interactions with many famous musicians in the industry, but it will also cover her activism. This woman’s voice was powerful, and she often used it to stand up for what she believed in. The documentary will be released on November 13, 2020.

The Woman behind the Music

Holiday was a complex and controversial character. She generally preferred white audiences, she only occasionally sang the blues, and she even became an enemy of the state when she sang her protest song! The woman had built a reputation for herself as a loyal, trustworthy and loving friend, but also one as a vindictive lover. It seemed that everyone believed they knew her life story more intimately than she herself did, and she was, unfortunately, often judged for aspects of herself that she could not change. Like many musicians, she succumbed to alcohol more often than not, and eventually became addicted to the high that it brought her. When she was confronted about this in interviews, she would confess that most singers, most musicians for that matter, simply want to live life to the fullest, enjoying each day as though it was a beautiful and eternal paradise.

The Documentary

Many classic images documenting Holiday’s rich life will be showcased, and the filmmakers will be incorporating information from various interviews that the singer attended throughout her life. As many of us who play music understand, there is something about this art form that speaks directly to one’s soul. It’s often easier to express the power of heartache, sorrow, love, and anger through music than it is to do so through words. Holiday felt the same and told much of her life story through the songs that she wrote and performed.

During a time of enormous racial discrimination, Holiday sang a protest piece that she had written on stage in 1939 titled, “Strange Fruit.” It was controversial at the time for many, but it was also extremely necessary. Holiday was not afraid to voice her opinions about the circumstances of the day through her music, and many were glad that she dared to do so.
Of course, jazz musicians have the soundtrack to look forward to, containing many of Holiday’s classic tunes that she has penned over the years, which will be also be released on November 13 of this year. Fascinatingly, this documentary was actually inspired by a book that never came to be.

The Unfinished Manuscript

Linda Lipnack Kuehl, an avid fan, wanted to write Holiday’s life story in a biography. She meticulously collected over two hundred hours’ worth of interviews with musicians that the singer knew personally, including Count Basie, Tony Bennett, and Charles Mingus. Unfortunately, the book was never brought to completion, and the interviews were never shared with the public.

Ellie Mckinsey is staff writer at “Know Your Instrument” :


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