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Billie Holiday Biography

Birth Name:
Eleanora Fagan
Birth Place:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Singer, songwriter

Fast Facts

  • Changed her first name to Billie in tribute to movie star Billie Dove; Holiday was her father's surname
  • Was discovered at a Harlem jazz club at the age of 18
  • Made her movie debut as an extra in 1933's The Emperor Jones
  • Was nicknamed "Lady Day" by saxophonist Lester Young
  • In 1938, became one of the first black singers to work with an all-white band
  • Member of the 1979 induction class into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame
  • A bronze statue of her was erected in 1985 in her hometown of Baltimore, MD
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000
  • Honored in 2005 with a Grammy Hall of Fame award


  • James Monroe -- Ex-husband
  • Clarence Holiday -- Father
  • Bevan Dufty -- Godchild
  • Lorraine Feather -- Godchild
  • Louis McKay -- Husband
  • Sadie Fagan -- Mother