Billie Holiday's birthday celebrated Wednesday at the Pratt Library
The indelible jazz artist Billie Holiday, one of the greatest talents to emerge from Baltimore, will be saluted Wednesday by the Pratt Library and Billie Holiday House.
This birthday celebration -- the singer was born on April 7, 1915 (she died much too soon on July 17, 1959) -- will be held at the Central Library. It includes the 11 a.m. opening of an exhibit, "Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday," and the unveiling of a replica of James Earl Reid's striking sculpture of Billie Holiday (the original is located at Pennsylvania and W. Lafayette avenues). At 7 p.m., vocalist Lonette McKee will perform a Holiday tribute.
To me, Billie Holiday is the jazz equivalent of opera's Maria Callas, a singer with an imperfect vocal instrument, but incomparable style. Here's my own birthday salute to Lady Day, from her exquisite "Lady in Satin" album recorded about a year and a half before her death. It doesn't get better than this: