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Women in Jazz: Special Look into Billie Holiday

BUT FIRST: ALL ABOUT JAZZ

   Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime.

   The key elements of Jazz include: blues, syncopation, swing and creative freedom. Jazz has a lot of the elements that most other music has: It has melody; the tune of the song, It has harmony; the notes that make the melody sound fuller, and it has rhythm; which is the heartbeat of the song.

WOMEN IN JAZZ: BILLIE HOLIDAY

   Jazz was very much alive during the Civil Rights Movement. Jazz music was in fact, a product of the Harlem Renaissance. Jazz musicians created a space for the black community to see the beauty in their blackness. Black communities relied on Jazz performers to help better racial injustice and provide a sense of black pride. Unfortunately, many movements in history were/are dominated by men. The Harlem Renaissance was one of the few movements that were in some ways inclusive to men and women. Black artists collectively produced art for their communities.

   One of the most famous woman in jazz, Billie Holiday was a huge contributor to the art/work of the Harlem Renaissance. Billie Holiday who was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She changed her name to “Billie Holiday” because of her admiration for a film star named “Billie Dove.” She also received that nickname “Lady Day” from a saxophone player. Around the 1950’s, Billie Holiday rose to become a social phenomenon. She began to sing in jazz clubs as a teenager, singing with many famous musicians, such as Louis Armstrong. She was one of the first black women to work with an orchestra. She was known for manipulating tempo. Her unique and soulful voice was a gift. Holiday lacked technical training, but that was actually a blessing, making her the most outstanding singer of her age. One of her famous songs, “Strange Fruit,” was a huge hit. The song “Strange Fruit” was a cry for Civil Rights. It was known as probably the first protest in words and music.

All THAT JAZZ: Conclusion

   In conclusion, performers like Billie Holiday and black jazz performers around the country made money off their records that were sold and made money off of performing on stages. Some songs and records are still profitable today as most famous jazz musicians are still known to be musical legends. So many genres of music have Jazz to thank. Jazz music (and the elements of jazz music) have influenced genres such as Rock, Pop, Hip-Hop, and etc.

IMANI WINGFIELD

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