Billie Holiday (1995)

Billie Book Cover



‘Stuart Nicholson’s Billie Holiday is intelligent and well written…His remarks are often original, putting order into her chaos by dissecting every artistic move…Where Mr. Nicholson excels is in describing song after song after song with their interjected cooings and adulatory supportings by this or that instrumental soloist’.  NED ROREM, (WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR MUSC, 1976), THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF BOOKS (USA)

‘The best biography of the star called Lady Day’. DAILY EXPRESS (UK)

‘Nicholson’s hugely researched biography is the authoritative work on [Holiday]’. MOJO (UK)

A model of biographical writing, much previously unknown material’. BILLIE HOLIDAY.COM (The Official Website of Billie Holiday) (USA)

‘In scholarship and musical insight this book equals the high standard of the same author’s recent biography of Ella Fitzgerald. Anyone who does not already know the outline of Billie’s story will find it equally compulsive reading, but even for those familiar with it there are quite a few surprises’. THE OBSERVER (UK)

‘This scholarly look at one of the giants of American music is a worthy complement and counterpoint to Holiday’s own account’. LIBRARY JOURNAL (USA)

‘Nicholson’s rendition of the life that gave rise to Billie Holiday’s muse is wise and an appropriate backdrop to the Lady Day still embodied in those recordings between 1933 and 1959…The book is laid out in scholarly fashion…[his] genealogical work is impressive…[and his] description of Holiday’s drug use sophisticated and thoughtful…This is a very professional biography and probably the standard for the future’. POPULAR MUSIC AND SOCIETY (USA)

‘With perhaps more success than any other biographer so far, Nicholson illuminates complexities in [Holiday’s] personality, her art and her times that made the singer a phenomenon of American culture. As good as he is in biographical detail, his greatest contribution is perspective on the singer’s creative process’. JAZZ TIMES (USA)

‘[Nicholson’s] discussion of the musical side of Holiday’s achievements is the book’s most valuable contribution’. KIRKUS REVIEWS (USA)

‘Compulsive reading…[Nicholson] is at his best when describing and analysing her often very moving recorded performances’. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (UK)

‘Nicholson’s polished, just-the-facts approach to biography…is valuable when it comes to chronicling Billie Holiday’s tumultuous life…We feel free to praise Nicholson for his precise and eloquent analysis of Holiday’s incomparable music’. BOOKLIST (USA)

‘Basing his sensitive, perceptive biography on interviews with those who knew the great jazz singer (1915-1959) and on extensive research in court records, police files and newspaper accounts, Nicholson chronicles Holiday’s tragic life…stressing throughout his book the interaction between Holiday’s life and her art. Nicholson laments that her image eventually overshadowed her music [and] successfully portrays both the genius and the tragedy of the legendary Lady Day’. PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY (USA)

‘Nicholson’s study is first-rate’. CHOICE (USA)

‘The legendary lady gets first class treatment from Nicholson…A captivating biography’. DISC (USA)

‘By far the best and most important book ever written about Lady Day’. THE BLUES NEWS (USA)

‘[Nicholson’s] knowledge of jazz is impressive and he writes about it in a way that will be accessible to the Lady’s numerous fans’. SUNDAY TIMES (UK)

‘An exemplary biography’. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)

Billie Holiday is one of the most important biographies ever written on a jazz musician.’ LADY DAY.NET (UK)

Thoroughly readable, linking nitty-gritty facts, gee-whiz flourishes and well evaluated opinion in a manner guaranteed to keep you flicking pages…make room in the library’. VOX (UK)

‘Hooray! At long, long last we now have a biography of that incomparable, inimitable jazzlady Billie Holiday which is totally worthy of the subject, and a magnificent, gripping read at that! Stuart Nicholson…is a chronicler of uncommon merit and possesses a knowledge of the jazz tradition of impressive breadth and depth….I cannot envisage a better account of the life and times of a complex, ofttimes buffeted human being as this one. A brilliant, sensitive and sympathetically drawn portrait of..a jazz immortal.’ CRESCENDO AND JAZZ MUSIC (UK)

‘Some of the most trenchant splicings of musical analysis and anecdote ever applied to Holiday. This is a sober, detailed account, but at times it is inspired in its insights into just how and why Lady Day pulls those strings in your heart’. Q MAGAZINE (UK)

‘[Nicholson] has done his homework well and tells Billie’s story−from wretched childhood to her later tragic excesses−with real feeling’. DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)

‘You’d expect original research and intelligent conclusions from the author of the classic Ella Fitzgerald biography, and you get them in his biography of Billie Holiday’. TIME OUT (UK)

‘A major new work which is certain to become the standard biography of the greatest jazz singer’. JAZZ UK (UK)

‘A great contribution…the book is wonderful on the arrival of drugs in her life, Nicholson has done terrific research. A very good book and a good read’. KALEIDOSCOPE, BBC RADIO 4

‘An excellent work by eminent jazz writer Stuart Nicholson…Holiday’s relatively short life is so rich in musical stories it is refreshing to read a book about her which comfortably puts more sordid events in perspective and makes extensive accounts of the American jazz and swing scene so readable’. JAZZ MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL (UK)

‘Stuart Nicholson’s book is most definitely one for the jazz enthusiast and my number one choice’. JAZZ JOURNAL (UK)

‘Jazz fans and those who like good biographies will enjoy Billie Holiday by Stuart Nicholson’. FEMINIST BOOKSTORE NEWS (USA)

‘Stuart Nicholson has a proven track record in jazz and blues, with superb biographies of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald to his credit, but he excels himself in this one…if you know the songs already you’ll play them again with new ears: if you don’t, oh, what a voyage of discovery you’ll have in store.’ IRISH TIMES (IRELAND)

‘Considered by many as the best and most accurate biography.’ JAZZNYTT  (NORWAY)

‘A wonderful biography,’ RAN BLAKEpianist, composer, recording artist, educator and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, former chair of the Contemporary Improvisation Department, New England Conservatory and currently faculty member at NEC (USA).

“The authoritative and well-researched book by Stuart Nicholson, Billie Holiday.’ (1995). LEWIS PORTER, Jazz Pianist, Composer, Author, Professor of Music at Rutgers University and Founder and Director of their Master’s Program in Jazz History and Research (USA).

When BILLE HOLIDAY  first appeared in paperback in the United States of America, it was nominated a ‘NOTEWORTHY PAPERBACK OF THE YEAR’ by THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF BOOKS in both their summer and year end ‘NEW AND NOTEWORTHY’ collections.

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