I have some numbers for you:
This April 7th is Billie Holiday‘s 107th birthday. Fifteen years before her birth, in 1900, a bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress to criminalize lynching. This month, over 100 years later, and 63 years after Holiday’s death, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act has been signed into law.
Holiday was and is still known, of course, as a superb jazz singer, considered by some to be the best singer of all time, period. During the height of her fame, she was also known for a particular song, Strange Fruit, which spoke to the graphic horror of lynching. Though she was pursued and framed more than once by the FBI in their efforts to prevent her from singing the song, she persisted. While other artists recorded it, in my opinion, Holiday’s arrangement is perfect.
Watch Party – Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song
To learn more about how the song Strange Fruit came to be, please join me for a Zoom Watch Party of the 2002 documentary Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song. I learned so much from this film about the several individuals responsible for the writing and success of this song, as well as the inevitable twists and turns of the song’s journey.
I hope you’ll join me:
- Watch Party: Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song
- Saturday, April 9
- Two showings: 10:00am & 5:00pm PDT
- Join our newsletter to receive the Zoom link – no need to register
April Class – The Songs of Billie Holiday
In honor of Billie Holiday’s birthday, her musical legacy, and the much-too-delayed passing of this legislation, I’m teaching a short, but substantive three-week class on The Songs of Billie Holiday for Ukulele. We’ll learn to play Strange Fruit, as well as some other classics, including God Bless the Child and others. If you have specific suggestions and requests, I am always open: contact me here.
I do my best to accommodate players of all levels and experience. That said, I do recommend that those registering for this class be ready for a variety of new chords, and specifically ready to play songs with a LOT of chords in them. This is jazz, after all, an incredibly creative and playful genre of music. We’ll take it slow, and I’ll offer alternative chord shapes when I can, I just want you all to know what ride you’re buckling up for!
- The Songs of Billie Holiday for Ukulele
- Wednesdays, April 6, 13, & 20
- Two cohorts: 10:00-11:00am & 5:00-6:00pm PDT
- Register here (Note: registration is still being hosted on my old website.)
Once you’ve registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email. As we approach the first class, I’ll send out a reminder email with our class materials.
Those unable to attend class times but still interested in taking the class may also take the class by EMAIL. Registered participants receive a weekly email with materials, instructions, and practice video links.