Billie Holiday’s Story Depends on Who’s Telling It
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Billie Holiday’s Story Depends on Who’s Telling It

For Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, the story of Billy Holiday, a well-known jazz singer, came to him in drugs and drubs. When Park was growing up, he said, “Our parents would tell us, ‘That was a sad story.” And then, as we got a little older, ‘he used drugs.’ And then as we got older, my mother started saying things like, you know, They went to him. But she didn’t really attend it. “

In the upcoming drama “United States vs Billy Holiday, “Park, who wrote the screenplay, really gets involved in it, encompassing many of Holiday’s most well-known battles – with heroin addiction, Jim Crow-era racism, and a seemingly endless string of thugs and cod – in reference to his short – known about the conflict with Harry J. Ansslinger, now the casteless head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

“The story is that this woman, this icon, was very outspoken, and so the government came after her,” Parks said in a phone interview. “It’s about how we African-American people love this country that doesn’t really love us.”

the director Lea danielsThe film reveals how Unslinger followed Holiday (played by Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day) for his drug use, but in fact because he refused to stop singing.strange Fruit,“The haunting and antidote anthem, which has become one of the most well-known protest songs ever.

The role admitted that it was challenging. Holiday was one of the most liked and famous jazz singers in the world, his songs were later covered by artists such as John Coltrane, Barbara Strisand and Nina Simone, with influences from singers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Cassandra Wilson himself felt it. And then there were all the other people who played the role before him. Dey said in the video call, “I just had the idea going through my mind that people are so amazing at Billy Holiday, Diana Ross was amazing, Audra McDonald was amazing.” “Oh, and then that girl, Andrea De, who remembers tried To play Bailey? ”

Premiering on Hulu on 26 February, the biopic is the latest in a series of dates of several decades of Lady Day and her music. Day’s Golden Globe-nominated performance includes Ross’s 1972 feature “Lady Sings the Blues” as a star turn, and McDonald’s Tony-winning performance in the Broadway musical “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” In addition, children’s books (“Billy Holiday: Wishing on the Moon”), children’s books (“Mr. and Lady Day: Billy Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her”), and documentaries (“Ladies’ Long Night”); “Billy”). Over the years, Holiday’s portrayal has become more granular, with a historian and heritage musician, a pioneering black female entertainer and “Strange Fruit,” an addict with the insight to engage with the champion of civil rights Shifting away from her problems. .

Looming over them all “Lady sings sad, “Holiday’s 1956 haunting autobiography, which omitted many details of her life (including Orson Welles and Tullullah Bankhead with cases of the singer) and others fictional (her place of birth; marital status of her parents) .

The book formed the basis for the 1972 biopic, a film that, incidentally, inspired Daniel to become a director. (His credits include “Butler” and “Precious”) “”‘Ladies sings the blues’ My life changed, ”he said in a phone interview. “It was beautiful black people. This Diana Ross was at the height of everything. It was a black fineness mixed with pig legs and pineapple soda and cornbread. It was magic. I have never been so thrilled by something. “

Musical “Lady’s Day at Emerson Bar & Grill“Imagine a set – but what a set! – during which the singer escapes from a place of arrest on a small night in Philadelphia on a charge of drugs. (” When I die, “she cracks.” I don’t care if I go to heaven or hell, unless she’s in Philly. “) The holiday bell rings against the bad men in her life, including her first husband, Jimmy Monroe, and the unnamed assailant who accompanied her. Raped when he was a child.

Since the premiere of that musical in 1986, a Lady-to-Lady Lady Days has played a demanding role in theaters across the country, including Lonette McKee and Ernestine Jackson. In 2014, McDonald’s singing won the actress a record-breaking sixth Tony.

To enliven the icon in “United States vs. Billy Holiday”, Parks read all he could about the singer, immersed in his music. She sings “Ladies the Blues”, but does not watch the film again. (“O Love That movie, so I was liking it, I’m going to do that. “) She also read a number of books from Holiday’s longtime nemesis (played by Garrett Hedlund in the film), which announced that jazz looked like a jungle. In the dead of night” and declared that the lives of its players were “dirty.” Is a repetition of.

Parks said, “Anslinger is called the ‘jazz type’, so he was fascinated by himself and saw himself making America great again.”

Parks also studied Jimmy Fletcher, a black narcotics agent whom Anslinger helped to bring down Holiday. “Right now we are in the position of Black America,” said Parks. “You want to prove that you’re not really black. Put some black people down.” This is the way to climb the ladder in the entertainment business. I am not going to mention a name! But you still see it. “

In addition to Fletcher and Anslinger, a whole roster of bad guys enters Holiday’s life, including the singer’s third husband, Louise McKay. In 1972, “Lady Siz the Blues,” McKay, as played by Billy D. Williams, is Holiday’s super-sway, savior, who struggles (and fails) to get the singer to take drugs. (The actual McKay served as the technical advisor for that film.) In fact – and in Danielle’s film – McKay was a pimp, an addict, and a wife beater.

“The woman who was so strong, who could clearly see the injustice in our culture, just kept up with the wrong man,” Parks said. “But I think that’s how it always is. Great people do great things, but then at home, they are like – “And here the author shouted.

Nevertheless, the singer, who emerges in “The United States vs. Billy Holiday”, is more fighter than a victim, taking on Anslinger (near the end of the film), she tells him, “Your grandfather ‘Strange Fruit ‘singing. “) And his own hold against Fletcher.

“You see him as a human,” Dey said. “As black women, we are not meant to show ugly parts or mistakes. Billy’s funny, he is this great magnetism, he can be crazy and self-destructive. But she can also stand up and be a force of strength. Pillars can occur when the forces are much higher than those trying to destroy them. “

James Erskine, Director of The recent documentary “Billy,” Wanted to move beyond the standard narratives of Holiday as a victim. “I was really looking forward to showing that she was living life,” he said. “There’s a sequence where she’s on 42nd Street and she’s been having a lot of sex and taking a lot of drugs, and I really wanted to feel very positive, that she was determining her fate.”

In the 1970s, a 200-hour interval of audio interviews conducted by journalist Linda Lipack Kuehl attracted Erskine’s film. Many comments have not aged well: a psychiatrist declares Holiday a psychopath; Others attribute his beating to men by masculinity.

The documentary also includes remarks about Holiday’s deep and platonic love for saxophonist Lester Young, his unfulfilled desire to have children, and his 1948 sellout at Carnegie Hall after his term in West Virginia’s federal prison .

“The notion of Lady Sizz the Blues” is pretty much Billy as a victim and addict, but I think when she was victimized by people, she was really a fighter, “Erskine said.” And she’s a great artist. Also, of course, that’s why we’re still talking about him after he died. “

For Daniel, Holiday’s story will always be relevant. “This is the story of America,” he said. “And unless we are doing therapy, it will not be relevant until the American is cured.”

In Parks’ view, “he was a soldier. Just the fact that she kept singing ‘Strange Fruit’! She was a soldier of the First Order. Those mink coats and diamonds she wore were her armor, and her voice was her sword. “



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