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Billie Holiday ( April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", "Fine and Mellow".
Billie Holiday, 1958 “I’ve been told that nobody sings the word ‘hunger’ like I do. Or the word ‘love.’ Maybe I remember what those words are all about. Maybe I’m proud enough to want to remember Baltimore and Welfare Island, the Catholic institution and the Jefferson Market Court, the sheriff in front of our place in Harlem and the towns from coast to coast where I got my lumps and scars, Philly and Alderson, Hollywood and San Francisco, every damn bit of it." - Lady Sings the Blues (1956)