This show aired on Sunday, April 5, 2015 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast focused on the life and career of Billie Holiday in celebration of what would have been her 100th birthday and featured interviews with filmmaker Phyllis M. Croom, author and Columbia University professor Farah Jasmine Griffin, and vocalist Nona Hendryx. You can hear a short preview below.
We speak with Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, the author of If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery – In Search Of Billie Holiday.
We revisit a discussion with Director Phyllis M. Croom of a documentary titled Being Billie: Re-Imagining Billie Holiday. We include an additional discussion with Ms. Croom before she hosted a premiere screening of her film that took place the airing of tonight’s broadcast.
Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan Gough on Apr 7, 1915 in Baltimore, MD. Billie Holiday’s highly stylized reading of this blues tradition revolutionized traditional pop, ripping the decades-long tradition of song plugging in two by refusing to compromise her artistry for either the song or the band. She made clear her debts to Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong (in her autobiography she admitted, “I always wanted Bessie’s big sound and Pops’ feeling”), but in truth her style was virtually her own, quite a shock in an age of interchangeable crooners and band singers.
Show engineered, produced, hosted, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.