Annie: Billie Holiday had a tough life, 1915-1959, and I'm not going to try to glamorize it or make it look it cool. But during that life she managed to produce some great art and the legacy of her work has made her one of the masters in the jazz genre.
It's a testament to her gifts and talents that her work still holds up today and that new generations continue to discover her. Other male and female vocalists often had more impressive vocal range, but Holiday stamped her mark on each song and made you feel she was singing just to you and singing her truth from her very soul.
Songs like "Strange Fruit" (which she wrote), "God Bless the Child," "My Man," The Man I Love," "Good Morning Heartache," and "Don't Explain" capture the power of her talent.
Besides her own personal demons, Holiday faced racism and other obstacles. In a recording studio, she managed to transcend everything as she stood in front of the microphone communicating with the world. We still hear her and the legacy lives.
Billie Holiday is one of the masters and great artists of the 20th century. For that reason, I picked her as my person to salute for Black History Month.
More information about Holiday can be found at her official web site.