“Her voice was the voice of living intensity of the soul (in the true sense of that greatly abused word). As a human being she was sweet, sour, kind, mean, generous, profane, loveable and impossible, and nobody who knew her expects to see anyone quite like her again.” — The writer Leonard Feather on Billie Holiday
There exist many myths and legends about the Jazz Singer Billie Holiday — one of the greatest voices of the last century. Most of them tell the story of the tragic victim of drugs, alcohol, men, color, or the circumstances of her upbringing. To some extent she contributed herself to these legends, especially in her autobiography “Lady Sings the Blues”. In recent years, more and more records and reports have shown a different picture of her. These statements of confidants, colleagues and friends clean up with many of the legends and show a strong personality who has been anything but a pitiable victim. Billie Holiday was a strong-willed and determined person and a very complex personality who did not correspond to the classic victim type.
This documentary takes — on her 100th birthday on April 7, 2015 — some key statements of people who knew Billie, as a basis to give a different sense of the nature of Billie Holiday, her music and her life. We also hear statements from the jazz singers Cassandra Wilson, who has just published a 100th anniversary tribute CD, and Dee Dee Bridgewater, who has played Billie Holiday in the musical “Lady Day” on Broadway. We hear the author Julia Blackburn, who has collected some interesting statements of companions in her book “With Billie” and the renowned Jazz Journalist, jazz historian and former editor of the jazz magazine “Down Beat”, Dan Morgenstern.
A Film by Katja Duregger ; TAG/TRAUM Filmproduktion in co-production with ARTE/SWR/SRF