Tag Archives: Billie Holiday

The muses of La Musa: Baby Rose

Atlanta’s Baby Rose has already received a GRAMMY nomination and co-signs from the likes of SZA, James Blake and J. Cole so it feels like a fairly surefire bet, in the run up to a debut slated for 2023, that the singer’s star will continue to ascend. Her music is a sensual mix of sweeping strings, jazz-indebted vocals and production that at once feels entirely modern but indebted to the greats of the past (Marvin Gaye and Billie Holiday are name checked as influences).

After announcing that her new album ‘Through and Through’ will be out on 28th April via Secretly, Baby Rose is sharing her latest single ‘Stop The Bleeding’.

4Ever Songs: Billie Holiday ‘Strange Fruit’

The story behind “Strange Fruit” is unlike any other. Written by a then-unknown teacher-poet-songwriter, its content was so shocking that even the singer – Billie Holiday – did not want to sing it at first. It became one of the first real protest songs, and one of the most important songs and records of all time. Time magazine called it “The Song of the (20th) Century.” 

Abel Meeropol was an English teacher in New York City in the 1930s who, purportedly upon seeing a photograph of two black men lynched in Indiana, wrote a poem about it called “Strange Fruit.”  In “Strange Fruit,” he translated the horror of lynching and racism in America into song by use of a grievous metaphor: the strange fruit hanging from the Southern tree is a lifeless body of a black man lynched.

It was on April 20, 1939 that Billie recorded the song, essentially producing it herself, singing it live with a small ensemble to an arrangement she created in the stuidio. The song quickly became a hit, and one of the best selling records of her  career, climbing to number 16 on the charts.

Best Covers: Chrissie Hynde “Caroline, No”

The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde has announced plans for a new album featuring a variety of jazz-influenced cover songs,  with the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble. Titled Valve Bone Woe, the record arrives September 6 .

The 14-song offering hears her delivering jazzy renditions of songs from the likes of the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Nick Drake, the Kinks, Billie Holiday and more. The first two tracks to be shared are versions of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No” and Don Raye and Gene De Paul’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is.”

Best Covers: Jim James “The World Is Falling Down”

Jim James, the frontman for My Morning Jacket, has shared his cover of jazz singer Abbey Lincoln’s “The World Is Falling Down” which features on his forthcoming new covers album Tribute To 2,  due Out December 8 via ATO. The song was the title track of her 1991 album released on Verve which saw her voice matched with some of the best jazz players around including flugelhornist Clark Terry and alto-saxophonist Jackie McLean. It’s a beautiful tribute to Lincoln who was frequently likened to her hero Billie Holiday, she was a civil rights advocate and activist from the 1960s on. She famously sang on Max Roach’s 1960 We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite. She would later marry Roach in 1962. Although she died in 2010 she was professionally active for most her life releasing Abbey Sings Abbey in 2007. She also ventured into acting with parts in The Girl Can’t Help It and Gentleman Prefer Blondes as well as Spike Lee movie Mo’ Better Blues.

The muses of La musa: Hindi Zahra

Hindi Zahra is a Franco-Moroccan singer and actress. When coming up with a stage name, she simply inverted her birth name. Her songs are mostly in English but some lyrics as in the song “Imik Si Mik” are in the Berber language.

Influenced by singers like Cheikha Rimitti, Hindi Zahra has drawn comparisons with Beth Gibbons of PortisheadManu ChaoBillie HolidayPatti Smith, and Norah Jones. In April 2015 her second studio album Homeland was released.

The muses of La Musa: Elena Setién

Elena Setién is a versatile artist in a permanent state of reinvention who, after having lived almost twenty years in London, Barcelona and Copenhagen, releases Dreaming of Earthly Things (Enja-Yellowbird, 2016). A complete record but not complex, easy to assimilate and with a lot of juice to extract that incorporates the legacy of names like Tom Waits, Billie Holiday or Nico, artists who marked her childhood. A flawless collection of songs that pretend to be autobiographical and yet they are a reflect of everyday situations created with a casual and naif tone.