Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), born Eleanora Fagan and later called Lady Day was an American singer widely considered one of the greatest jazz voices of all time. Her impact on other artists was undeniable, however; even after her death she continues to influence singers. In 1972, Diana Ross portrayed her in a film that was loosely based on Lady Sings the Blues, the autobiography she co-authored with William Dufty. Although the Hollywood treatment strayed far from the true story, it was a commercial success and earned Ms. Ross a Best Actress nomination. In 1987, Billie Holiday was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, in 1994, the United States Postal Service introduced a Billie Holiday postage stamp, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Over the years, there have been many recorded tributes to Billie Holiday, including “Angel of Harlem,” a 1988 release by the group U2.
Although her unique style has never been successfully duplicated, Billie Holiday inspired many singers and continues to be regarded as one of the jazz idiom’s most important vocalists.