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The Great Depression caused it to be hard to get a job or become successful because they limited the amount of workers and the amount each person or business could have but one person proved it that it was possible to become successful. Billie Holiday was a young girl with no future but she grew up to be so much more. In her life she went through many triumphs that led to many glories, in this paper you will learn about all of those.
Billie was born on April 7, 1915 with the name Eleanor Fagan. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sadie, her mother, was only a 19 when she had Billie with a man who is thought to be known as Clarence Holiday, a successful jazz musician. Her father being such a successful musician hardly ever came to visit Billie and Sadie. Billie didnt have a father until three years after she was born. When in 1920 Billies mother had gotten married to Phillip Gough, for a couple years Billie actually had a stable home. Before this marriage Billie had taken her grandfathers last name. That marriage didnt last for more than a few years and Billie had some difficulties living at home, there were times where Billy had to live with other people until her mother could take care of her again.
Billie started to skip school and get into trouble, shortly after the divorce. Billie and her mother went to court for her truancy, where Billy was sent to the House of Good Shepherd. This house was a facility for troubled African- American women; since Billie was only 9 years old she was one of the few youngest girls there. She was sent there in January and was sent home in August (of the same year). In 1926 Billie was sexually assaulted and was sent back to the home again and the man that attacked her was sent to prison. Billie left at the age of 13 to go to New York to visit her mother, on her way to visit she decided to stop and get off in Pennsylvania Station and visit Harlem first. She ended up getting lost; a social worker found her and took her to a hotel where she lived. This certain hotel turned out to be the YWCA. This is where she became a prostitute, and also began singing in local clubs and bars (this is where she renamed herself Billie). Billie had also started doing drugs such as marijuana . IN 1928 Billie and her mother moved to New York where her mother worked as housemaid, in 1929 the Great Depression hit and Sadie lost her job.
In 1932 Billie had decided to audition in clubs as a dancer but when she was rejected she decided to try singing instead. When Billie was 18 years old she was singing at a local jazz club in Harlem, where John Hammond, a music producer, discovered Billie. Hammond had her recording with Benny who played the clarinet and was also a band leader. She had her first commercial release Your Mothers Son-in-Law with Benny. In 1934 she had her first top ten hit singing Riffin the Scotch. She still began to sing in in Harlem night clubs and at theaters. Shortly after her first top ten hit she began to record with a man named Teddy Wilson, who was a jazz pianist. When performing with Teddy Wilson she came out with more singles such as: What a Little Moonlight Can Do and Miss Brown to You. Also in 1935 Billie starred in the film Symphony in Black with Duke Ellington. Billie had started to record with Count Basie and a year later she started to record with Artie Shaw. Billie became the first black singer to sing in an all-white orchestra.
In 1937 Billies father, Clarence Holiday, died of natural causes. In the 1940s her career started to fall and she started to take even heavier drugs. On August 25, 1941 she married a man named Jimmy Monroe. In 1947 she was jailed for drug charges. Before she was arrested Billie had starred in the movie New Orleans in 1946 with Louis Armstrong. After she was arrested she started to hang around with men that abused her, she became an alcoholic, and some say she was addicted to watching TV. On April 7, 1948 she starred in Holiday on Broadway with Sam Stewart, Bobby Tucker, and Cosy Cole. She began a tour in Europe in 1954. In 1956 Billie wrote and published her first autobiography with William Dufty called Lady Sings the Blues.
Jimmy and Billie end up getting a divorce in 1957. On March 28 of the same year Billie married a different man who was known as Louis McKay. In 1959 Billie was taken to the hospital for liver and heart disease on May 31. She died July 17 that year from liver disease in New York. Billie had died before her husband Louis. After her death Billie was recognized and rewarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and in 2000 with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It was hard to become successful or even to get a job during the Great Depression but one person did prove it possible. The Great Depression was going on throughout Billies life from when her mom had lost her job until the day she died. Billie Holiday went through a lot of things that no one should ever go through. She had had many triumphs and many glories but she did become one of the most successful women in history.
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