The NPR article, Looking For Lady Day's Final Resting Place? Detour Ahead reminded me that today is the 53rd anniversary of the death of Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz vocalists of the twentieth century.
Details of her early life are not entirely clear but what is known is a sad story of abuse and neglect throughout her childhood. Jazz historian, John Chilton pieces together the fragments of her early life in the biography, Billie's Blues: Billie Holiday's Life
Other biographies include, Strange Fruit By David Margolick.
At age 14, she was regularly singing in nightclubs throughout Harlem and within years had recorded what are considered the building blocks of modern jazz. By the 1950’s, her life was in a downhill slide and she died under house arrest in a New York City hospital.