The Songs of Billie Holiday for Ukulele

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
Strange Fruit Watch Party Billie Holiday for Ukulele

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!

Class Details

  • 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. 

Upcoming Events & Classes

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m still in the process of building this website to full capacity and operation. In the meantime, here are some important dates to mark in your calendars:

The Songs of Billie Holiday for Ukulele

  • Live on Zoom, with two cohorts
  • Wednesdays: 10:00-11:00am or 5:00-6:00pm PDT
  • 3 weeks: April 6, 13, 20
  • Registration open here

Watch Party: Strange Fruit – The Biography of a Song

  • Billie Holiday is most closely associated with the protest song Strange Fruit, but her relationship with the song is only one part of a much more intricate story. Learn more here about this 2002 documentary
  • Live on Zoom
  • Saturday, April 9, 10:00am or 5:00pm PDT
  • No registration necessary, but you’ll need to sign up for my newsletter to receive the Zoom link.

April Ukulele Jams

I host regular online jams on Zoom, typically the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. Join us for our next jams on April 2 and April 16. No registration necessary, but you’ll need to sign up for my newsletter to receive the Zoom link.

May / June Ukulele Class Term

  • Live on Zoom
  • Various topics and cohorts:
  • Wednesday mornings PDT and Wednesday / Thursday evenings PDT
  • 6 weeks: May 4/5, May 18/19 – June 15/16 (no classes the week of May 9)
  • Registration opening soon on this website

Each term, I offer a variety of class formats and topics. This upcoming term will include:

  • Ukulele Theme Study (formerly Sing & Strum): Pride! Queer Voices, Writers & Anthems
  • Ukulele by Ear: Love Gone Wrong
  • Beyond Beginner Ukulele: Strumming & Fingerpicking Patterns
  • Introduction to Ukulele Arrangements (learning to read and play instrumental music on your ukulele)

As always, please reach out to me directly with your inquires.

Welcome

Thank you for visiting my website! After maintaining two different websites (not well), it feels great to have all of my personas and all of my work here under one umbrella. My hope is that you find it easy to navigate, informative, engaging, but not too overwhelming.

As of this posting (March 2022), I’m still building in important features, like a page for class registration, an online course library, and an Event Calendar for starters. While I continue to build, please visit my previous ukulele teaching website: www.learnsongbysong.com. It will be active for the time being, likely until sometime in June 2022.

If you have any burning questions, observations, or comments, drop me a line here.

Thanks for your patience and your support of my work!