Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth

Billie HolidayBillie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth by John Szwed (Viking 2015)
Published in celebration of Holiday’s centenary, the first biography to focus on the singer’s extraordinary musical talent. Drawing on a vast amount of new material that has surfaced in the last decade, critically acclaimed jazz writer John Szwed considers how her life inflected her art, her influences, her uncanny voice and rhythmic genius, a number of her signature songs, and her legacy. WINNER OF THE 2016 JJA JAZZ AWARDS PRIZE FOR BEST JAZZ BOOK OF THE YEAR

Revelatory. . . Szwed’s book is one of the most briskly revealing pieces of jazz biography that I’ve read.”

Richard Brody, The New Yorker
[Szwed] offers a portrait of Lady Day as artist and mythmaker rather than tragic victim . . . . As with the best of Holiday’s music, this elegant and perceptive study is restrained, nuanced, and masterfully carried out.”
—Kirkus (starred review)