Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Billie Holiday is my Favorite Singer (Although I confess that Ella Fitzgerald is the best hands down)

Ok, tell me if you can understand were Im comming from on this one. I am a lover of music I literally can spend an evening with anything from JayZ to Bessie Smith and totally enjoy myself at least from the music stand point of things.

About 17 years ago I purchased a video cassette of Malcolm X speeches and other video clips from his life. Featured in this video was one segment accompanied by the Billie Holiday song " God Bless the Child" I enjoyed this particular rendition of the song so much that soon after I went to Tower Records and got a Billie Holiday Tape with God Bless the child on it hoping it would be that same version. When I got home to my dismay I found out that it wasnt the version I had wanted.

After my initial disapointent I listened to the entire album and was further disapointed. A few weeks later I was cleaning up my room and for some reason I put in that Billie Holiday Album at first I was focused on cleaning up and wasnt really listening but as the tape continued to play I then began to feel her groove more and more.

Eventually I would come to love that Album and even that particular version of God Bless the Child along with other songs such as "Dont Explain, Good Morning Heartache and Lover Man I played that tape over and over again and that music grew on me so much so that I continued to purchase billie holiday albums all throughout the 1990s without impunity eventually this Fetish would cost me over $ 350.00. Also during the 90's I would go on to spend hundreds more on postcards, posters ect. One hangs on my way presently.

So as you can see I have invested a whole lot of time and energy not to mention money invested into Lady Day. I have even written poetry in honor of her. Dont get me wrong shes not the only black icon I have studied. I am a addict of black history. Cant get enough of it. But Lady Day occupies a special place in my heart for black icons. So as you can see because shes my favorite if she were anywhere closed to bieng the best singer of all time my bias would probably force me to give her the benifit of the doubt.

But that is a claim I could never support because to me it is pretty obvious that if you were going to crown someone the greatest singer of all time it would have to be Ella Fitzgerald. Of course every one has their favorites but please listen to the to the following link and tell me Ella aint bad.

P.S that billie holiday link of God Bless the child just happens to be the version of god bless the child I was looking for all along.


Sheletha said...

oohhh im feeling you on this!!!!

JustMeWriting said...

I LOVE BILLIE TOO... and some of those are my favorites...especially 'God Bless The Child' and 'Good Morning Heartache' I even love 'Strange Fruit'. I love Ella too, but I've become a big fan of Dinah Washington and my all time, hands down favorite is...(drumroll please) NINA SIMONE... loves her... everything. I recorded myself (on my cell...lol) singing 'My Baby Cares'...I want to be in a jazz band so bad...lol oh well, another dream defered.

mark said...

@ Sheletha
Thank you Sheletha.


mark bey: I absolutely love Dinah washington to she did some absolutely incredible things with her voice. Did you ever hear the tribute to Bessie Smith Album by Dinah if you ever get the chance please check out "After youve gone".

You already know I love ella in fact I believe a strong argument can be made that she is the greatest singer of all time.

Ahhhhh. Then you mention my baby Nina Simone and just like you I love her version of my baby just cares for me. She also did a righteous version of since I fell for you. Also if you get a chance check out her autobiography "I put a spell on you" it is time well spent. Thank you for your comments JMW

JustMeWriting said...

oh wow...I'm going to have to check that bio out...I love her.

dc_speaks said...

I'm so confused....I love them both.

Stop making me choose, Mark.

That's like me having to pick between Phyllis Hyman and early Anita Baker. too hard!!

mark said...

Yo DC you dont have to choose you get enjoy both. Alls Im saying that if you wrote down the 10 things that made a singer great or the constituted great singing.
Ella Fitzgerald would score very high. Next time your listening to ella please pay attention to the things that shes doing with voice.

However that is my oppinion thier are lots of white people who probable think frank sinatra was the greatest singer of all time.

Field Negro has him listed on his greatest male singers list I believe I cant feel him on that one personally but we all have a right to our oppinion on such matters

Bygbaby said...

I love Billie, she has a Je ne sais quoi that is intoxicating & sexy.

I also like Ella but to me she is very different. I very her sound as very sophisticated & crisp when Billie is a little more down home & welcoming.

I can spend a whole night listening to both any given day!!!

Now Nina Simone; she is my favorite singer of all time hands down & I actually broke down & cried when she died several years ago.

Nina's music fills me with love, hope, determination, peace, rage & everything in the middle.

I was lucky enough to attend her last US concert here in Detroit & paid big bucks to sit in the second row. During her performance I had to keep myself composed because I could not believe I was that close to her.

Favorite Lady Day song: Don't Explain

Favorite EF song: A Night in Tunisia

Favorite NS song: Four Women

Great post!

mark said...

"I very her sound as very sophisticated & crisp when Billie is a little more down home & welcoming"

mark bey: I guesse you could make this statement as ella didnt sing very many blue.

But when you compare thier instruments (voices) thier really is no comparison billies voice had very limited range and ella fitzgerald sang in about 3 different octaves.

" Favorite Lady Day song: Don't Explain

Favorite EF song: A Night in Tunisia

Favorite NS song: Four Women"

I love dont explain both the version with strings recorded in 1944 I believe and the more jazzy version recorded in the 50's

The first Ella album I got had a night in tunisia so I love that song but I thing my favorite is a song she did called " The man that got away.

As for Nina I have never thought about which is my favorite song but I guess it would be I am Blessed or Tell me more.

billiefan said...

The criteria for "best" is really a matter of opinion. Having an impressive vocal range doesn't necessarily make someone better. As with you, Lady Day holds a special place in my heart, but I think we can all agree that Billie and Ella were two of the greatest singers of our time. Yet they were complete opposites musically. Just compare their recordings of "Love for Sale" for example. Both superb versions but miles apart in their interpretation. It all boils down to preference. Both are originals and can be judged on their own terms. Same with all the other great ladies--Dinah, Sarah, Nina. They all brought something unique to the table.

Great post, btw.

mark said...

" The criteria for "best" is really a matter of opinion."

mark bey You are correct in this statement. I also stated that although Lady was my favorite singer I thought Ella was the best and Im fully aware that it all depends who the best is is a subjective choice having to do with many things that cannot be accurately measured.

Anonymous said...

You got it right on the dot. I couldn't agree more. I've only started liking Billie Holiday recently and I am angry at myself for not discovering such a talent earlier in my life. I cannot agree with you more on Ella. She has got to be the BEST female singer ever. Her voice is flawless and her range is limitless. But for some reason, I am more drawn to Billie Holiday and the sorrow in her voice (it's not depressing though, it's just right..it's sounds like she's crying but she's hopeful if you understand what I mean). I LOVE Billie Holiday and she has instantly become my favourite female vocalist.