4 Apr 2022 07:00

Billie Holiday: Heroin Hounds, ‘Whorehouse Music,’ and the Queen of Jazz

Billie Holiday ascended from the rough and tumble streets of Baltimore and Harlem, through reform school, brothels, and Welfare Island, right to the top of the music game. Her childhood fascination with “whorehouse music” filled a void in her lost innocence, but she soon found a second stabilizer: Heroin. Just when her sensational “Strange Fruit” brought her to Columbia Records, her dependency on hard drugs landed her behind bars. Her mesmerizing voice ensnared listeners unlike any other jazz singer of her day, but in the end, it was narcotics that eventually ensnared Billie Holiday and sealed her fate.

This episode contains themes that may be disturbing to some listeners and includes descriptions of sexual assault.

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