Today, Billie Holiday is an icon - an artist whose voice has weathered countless shifts in public taste, and whose impact on contemporary music is unquestionable. But when eighteen-year-old Billie Holiday stepped into Columbia studios in November of 1933 to record 'Riffin' the Scotch' and 'Your Mother's Son-in-Law', one could predict the sensation that was about to emerge; marking the beginning of what is arguably the most remarkable and important career in twentieth-century popular music. Drawing on revelatory new material, including unpublished memoirs and interviews, Billie Holiday is the first account to consider the singer as an artist, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a number of her signature songs, and her legacy.
John Szwed is Professor of Music and Jazz Studies at Columbia University, and Director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of a number of books, including Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth, Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World and So What: The Life of Miles Davis.