Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was a trail-blazing musical artist, known as perhaps the first female vocalist to use her voice in the style of jazz improvisation. Recording first with Benny Goodman, she became the first Black female vocalist to front a white band, that of Artie Shaw. She also performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She had long professional associations with saxophonist Lester Young (who named her Lady Day; she called him Prez) and pianist Teddy Wilson.
Born to poverty in Philadelphia, she was a victim of sexual assault while still a child and sentenced by the court to a Catholic correctional institution. It was only her first experience with the court, however. She was convicted at age 13 (along with her mother) of prostitution. Subsequent arrests involved possession of narcotics and substance abuse.
Despite a turbulent life, abusive relationships, and racism, she prevailed to become one of the greatest jazz and blues artists of her time, before her untimely demise at age 44 from cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to multiple hit recordings, she sold out Carnegie Hall three times.
Actor-singer-playwright Synthia L. Hardy brings the story of Billie Holiday to vibrant life. In Billie! Backstage with Lady Day, Billie is being interviewed by unseen reporters as she unfolds the story of her turbulent life. Billie, accompanied by a live four-piece combo, sings her greatest hits, including God Bless the Child, Strange Fruit, Good Morning Heartache, Lover Man, many more.
Musicians accompanying Ms. Hardy include Lanny Hartley, Mark “Panther” Felton, Bobby Wilkerson and Michael Saucier.
Billie! Backstage with Lady Day is the story of a legendary musical talent, performed by an extraordinary musical star with her ace musical combo. If you appreciate jazz and blues at all, you owe it to yourself to see this show.
Billie! Backstage with Lady Day kicks off the Sierra Madre Playhouse Solo Shows Festival. For full information about upcoming events, go to http://sierramadreplayhouse.org
Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre , CA 91024. There is free parking available in lots behind the Playhouse and across the street, as well as street parking. There are several dining establishments just yards from the Playhouse. ADMISSION: $40. Seniors (65+) $35. Youth (21 and under) $25. RESERVATIONS: (626) 355-4318. ONLINE TICKETING: http://sierramadreplayhouse.org
CONSUMER ADVISORY: Some profanity.