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Billie Holiday Kick


Is Billie Holiday Street Next?


In the current climate of social and political upheaval and the potential for national soul searching, there is no better representative of America’s promise outpacing America’s flaws than Billie Holiday.

I’m about to set off on a year-long Billie Holiday kick. Hopefully, the end result will be a street-naming in Lady Day’s honor.

You can’t help loving Billie Holiday for her talent, courage, perseverance, individualism, good humor, and her unparalleled ability to make you feel things deeply when she sang.

Let’s begin this in 1939…

At 24 years of age she was cracking open the civil rights movement by delivering nightly riveting encores of Strange Fruit to packed houses at the proactively integrated Cafe Society in Greenwich Village.

Where did that song come from and what was it about?

The song is credited to Lewis Allan, which was the pen name for the Jewish Bronx school teacher, Abel Meeropol, who had a fascinating story of his own.

Take a look at this NPR profile on Mr. Meeropol then watch this late-career recording of Billie Holiday imbuing every syllable with the hard fought for and deeply felt power of her life experience.

Article: NPR

Video: YouTube

Keep an eye on this space as the year goes on. I will announce a concert series dedicated to Lady Day, and progress made with the Billie Holiday street-naming endeavor.

Sites associated with Billie Holiday, including her Harlem jazz haunts, and Cafe Society – where she debuted Strange Fruit in the Village – are visited nightly on our Big Apple Jazz Tours.

Buy tickets here:


Stay tuned, friends.



Gordon Polatnick

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