In 1971, journalist Linda Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie Holiday. The book was never finished and the 200 hours of extraordinary interviews remained unheard until now.
Billie Holiday’s remarkable career was cut short in 1959 aged 44 with 77 cents in her bank account. Interviews with friends and family, insight from Tony Bennett and even an arresting officer from one of her notorious drug busts provide unprecedented appraisal of the legendary jazz singer. Testimony from a chuckling pimp who pressed her into prostitution at the age of 16 is particularly troubling. Other interviewees include musicians Charles Mingus, and Count Basie, as well as actress Sylvia Syms.
Holiday died of cirrhosis having been arrested in her hospital bed just a month earlier. A fascinating documentary about a troubled genius.
“What was essential to me was to make sure there was enough room in the film to sit back and admire her power, her genius, and also to ensure the audience grasped that Billie’s story was told through the songs she sang,” Director - James Erskine.