Billie Holiday

Hi, I am Eleanor Fagan Gough, or most of you know me as Lady Day or Billie

Holiday. I am known, as one of America\'s most memorable and influential singers of all
time. I was born in Baltimore, in a run down apartment, in 1915. My mother had a very
unsteady, low paying job, and my father ran out on us when I was very young. I had no
choice but to try and find a way to make money for my mother and I. This led me to
become a singer and a well-known legend. I am influential, people say, because I
changed the style of jazz music, came from poverty to fame, and overcame a terrible drug
addiction in my career.

People say I\'m influential because I changed the style of jazz music in an
interesting way. In 1935, after singing like most jazz singers in my time, I decided to
make my own sound by incorporate Louis Armstrong\'s swing, and Bessie Smith\'s sound.

As a result I came up with my own fresh sound. My manager, Benny Goodman, allowed
me to do whatever I wanted with my music. I added my own trademark by always
performing with a flower behind my ear. I put more fun and interest into the jazz music
industry.

People say I\'m influential because my life went from poverty to fame. It seems
like it happened all in one night. After my father had left us, my mother hadn\'t had a
very steady job ever. As a result we never had enough money for us to stay alive. This
forced me to go out and make some money on my own. At the age of thirteen, I entered
an old nightclub asking the manager if I could dance for money. He saw my dancing and
said, Let\'s hear you sing instead. I sang for him and he hired me on the spot. That was
the night I felt fame for the first time. I felt like I actually did have a talent, a purpose, a
gift.

People say I\'m influential because I overcame a terrible drug addiction and still
carried on with my career. It was later in my career when I developed a heroin addiction.

I was sentenced to one year and one day in an all women\'s prison. While there, I did not
sing one time. I was asked practically every day, but it just wasn\'t the same. After my
sentence was over, my manager called me and told me I was singing at the Carnegie Hall
in two weeks. Hundreds of people were there to watch, anxious to hear how I was going
to sound. As soon as I walked out onto the stage I received a standing ovation
unexpectedly. Right then I knew I had a huge impact on thousands of people lives. I
sang my heart out and many still say that was my best performance ever.

People say I sang like an angel. I did so much to change jazz music\'s style, I
came from poverty to fame, and I over-came a drug addiction and still kept going. Jazz is
still around today, but is not as nearly as popular as it used to be. Many say it just died
with me.