Brainy quotes:

If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.

I’m always making a comeback but nobody ever tells me where I’ve been.

I never had a chance to play with dolls like other kids. I started working when I was six years old.

Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s more than enough.

I never hurt nobody but myself and that’s nobody’s business but my own.

Excerpts from her Wikipedia page:

Holiday’s mother became a prostitute and, within a matter of days of arriving in New York, Holiday, who had not yet turned fourteen, also became a prostitute at $5 a client. On May 2, 1929, the house was raided, and Holiday and her mother were sent to prison. After spending some time in a workhouse, her mother was released in July, followed by Holiday in October, at the age of 14…

In November 1938 Holiday was asked to use the service elevator at the Lincoln Hotel, instead of the passenger elevator, because white patrons of the hotels complained. This may have been the last straw for her. She left the band shortly after. Holiday spoke about the incident weeks later, saying “I was never allowed to visit the bar or the dining room as did other members of the band … [and] I was made to leave and enter through the kitchen.”

In September 1946, Holiday began her only major film New Orleans. She starred opposite Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman. Plagued by racism and McCarthyism, producer Jules Levey and script writer Herbert Biberman were pressed to lessen Holiday’s and Armstrong’s roles to avoid the impression that black people created jazz. The attempts failed because in 1947 Biberman was listed as one of the Hollywood Ten and sent to jail…

Holiday’s drug addictions were a problem on the set. She earned more than a thousand dollars a week from club ventures but spent most on heroin. Her lover Joe Guy traveled to Hollywood while Holiday was filming and supplied her with drugs…

By 1947, Holiday was at her commercial peak, having made 250 000 dollars in the 3 previous years. Holiday came 2nd in the Down Beat poll for 1946 and 1947, her highest ranking in the poll. She came 5th on July 6, 1947 in Billboard’s annual college poll of “girl singers”. Jo Stafford came first. In 1946, Holiday won the Metronome Magazine popularity poll…

On May 16, 1947, she was arrested for possessing narcotics in her New York apartment…

On March 27, 1948, Holiday played Carnegie Hall to a sold-out crowd…

Holiday was arrested again on January 22, 1949, in her room at San Francisco’s Hotel Mark Twain…  Holiday’s New York City Cabaret Card was revoked because of her 1947 conviction, preventing her working anywhere that sold alcohol for the remaining 12 years of her life…

By the 1950s, Holiday’s drug abuse, drinking, and relationships with abusive men caused her health to deteriorate. She appeared on the ABC reality series The Comeback Story to discuss attempts to overcome her misfortunes. Her later recordings showed the effects of declining health on her voice, as it grew coarse and no longer projected its former vibrancy…

By early 1959 Holiday had cirrhosis of the liver. She stopped drinking on doctor’s orders, but soon relapsed…

On May 31, 1959, Holiday was taken to Metropolitan Hospital in New York with liver and heart disease. She was arrested for drug possession as she lay dying, and her hospital room was raided. Police guarded her room… On July 15, she received the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church, before dying two days later from pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver on July 17, 1959, at 3:10 am.

In her final years, she had been progressively swindled out of her earnings, and she died with $0.70 in the bank and $750 (a tabloid fee) on her person…

Gilbert Millstein of The New York Times… described her death in these same 1961-dated sleeve notes:

“Billie Holiday died in Metropolitan Hospital, New York, on Friday, July 17, 1959, in the bed in which she had been arrested for illegal possession of narcotics a little more than a month before, as she lay mortally ill; in the room from which a police guard had been removed – by court order – only a few hours before her death, which, like her life, was disorderly and pitiful. She had been strikingly beautiful, but she was wasted physically to a small, grotesque caricature of herself. The worms of every kind of excess – drugs were only one – had eaten her. The likelihood exists that among the last thoughts of this cynical, sentimental, profane, generous and greatly talented woman of 44 was the belief that she was to be arraigned the following morning. She would have been, eventually, although possibly not that quickly. In any case, she removed herself finally from the jurisdiction of any court here below.”

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