The real story behind the United States versus Billie Holiday


In 1955 her friend and sometimes manager Maely Bartholomew, who was married to journalist William Dufty, invited Holiday to stay in her apartment to hide – from the authorities, from reporters, from the poisonous men in her life (including her louse of a last man). Louis McKay). Then she and Dufty started the book.

It was probably correctly assumed that after not playing a show in New York for eight years because her cabaret license was revoked, Holiday was interested in working on the story of her life because she needed money.

“She wrote for money to support her drug habit and for the public to create the appearance that she was not becoming a habit and to give her back her cabaret ticket,” the journalist wrote Linda Kuehl, whose years of research, including interviews with people close to the singer, is the most widely used archive for Holiday biographers Lady sings the blues. (An odd case in itself, Kuehl planned to write the final book on Holiday herself, but she died in 1978 after jumping off a building in Washington, DC, according to police. Family members disputed the conclusion that she was had taken his life.)

filmmakers James Erskine acquired Kuehl’s archive and turned it into the 2020 documentary Billiewhich was released in November. In a taped interview, she overheard asking drummers Jonathan “Jo” Jones What they went through in the 1940s and 1950s when they traveled the south to perform.

“We went through hell!” he exclaimed. “Miss Billie Holiday did not have the privilege of using a toilet in a gas station. At least the boys could go into the woods. You don’t know about it because you never had to submit. Never!”

In conversation with The guard When the documentary came out, Erskine said, “We finished the film last year and I didn’t see it again until September. I was shocked at how political it felt. When we made it, we felt like we were truths presented things that everyone understood, white man power, structural racism. I wanted to make a movie about Billie and one of the joys is that you can really see her. But I think it tells us that we are taking refuge ‘I really haven’t looked at generational wounds in society. “



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