Certainly no singer has been more mythologized and more misunderstood than Billie Holiday, who helped to create much of the mystique herself with her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues. "Now, finally, we have a definitive biography," said Booklist of Donald Clarke's Billie Holiday, "by a deeply compassionate, respectful, and open-minded biographer [whose] portrait embraces every facet of Holiday's paradoxical nature, from her fierceness to her vulnerability, her childlikeness to her innate elegance and amazing strength." Clarke was given unrivaled access to a treasure trove of interviews from the 1970sinterviews with those who knew Lady Day from her childhood in the streets and good-time houses of Baltimore through the early days of success in New York and into the years of fame, right up to her tragic decline and death at the age of forty-four. Clarke uses these interviews to separate fact from fiction and, in the words of the Seattle Times, "finally sets us straight. . .evoking her world in all its anguish, triumph, force and irony." Newsday called this "a thoroughly riveting account of Holiday and her milieu." The New York Times raved that it "may be the most thoroughly valuable of the many books on Holiday," and Helen Oakley Dance in JazzTimes said, "We should probably have to wait a long time for another life of Billie Holiday to supersede Donald Clarke's achievement."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book. Well written and interesting to any one who really is into lady day. However, it is horribly slightful. How the author has a personal crusade to make Billie Holidays first husband look like a saint is sickening and one cant help but wonder did Monroe promise him a interview or something? pictures are nice though the author speculates and as a reader I could care less about his speculations and more about avtual events that occured during the life of Billie Holiday. This is a book that requires reading a couple of times by the third I was pissed and ready for it to end. Also he is so technical about the ghetto. The ghetto hasn't changed much but as usual its a author who has no first hand knowledge of the ghetto trying to figure the ghetto out for the most part he fails. A OK book I just get at the libary. Wouldnt let him get any royalties for it out of my wallet
We shall probably have to wait a long time for another life of Billie Holiday to supersede Donald Clarke's achievement. --Helen Oakley Dance, author, record producer and Lady's friend, in JazzTimes