On July 17 Billie Holiday passed away at the age of 44 …

On July 17, 1959 Billie Holiday died in New York at the age of 44 from liver complications leading to heart failure and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs). The liver complications were caused by years of alcohol abuse. At the time of her being admitted into a New York hospital, Holiday was arrested for drug possession (heroin), and her fortune had dwindled down to 70 cents. 

Billie Holiday  United States Library of Congress's Music Division

Billie Holiday
United States Library of Congress’s Music Division

Often credited for changing the art of singing in terms of pop vocals, Holiday was known for influencing the landscape of jazz with her unique vocal style, particularly her tempo. Nicknamed “Lady Day,” some of Holiday’s most signature hits include “Lady Sings the Blues,” “Strange Fruit,” and “Fine and Mellow.” Due to her contributions to music, particularly jazz, six of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, with “Strange Fruit” also listed into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002.

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