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BILLIE HOLIDAY – Strange Fruit (her filmed performances taken from TV shows 1950-1959)

BILLIE HOLIDAY – Strange Fruit (her filmed performances taken from TV shows 1950-1959)

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billie holiday sheet music pdf
Billie Holiday’s sheet music is available from our Library

Billie Holiday Biography (1915–1959)

Billie Holiday was one of the most influential jazz singers of all time. She had a thriving career for many years before she lost her battle with addiction.

Who Was Billie Holiday?

Billie Holiday is considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years before she lost her battle with substance abuse. Also known as Lady Day, her autobiography was made into the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. In 2000, Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early Life

Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Some sources say her birthplace was Baltimore, Maryland, and her birth certificate reportedly reads “Elinore Harris.”) 

Holiday spent much of her childhood in Baltimore, Maryland. Her mother, Sadie, was only a teenager when she had her. Her father is widely believed to be Clarence Holiday, who eventually became a successful jazz musician, playing with the likes of Fletcher Henderson. 

Unfortunately for Holiday, her father was an infrequent visitor in her life growing up. Sadie married Philip Gough in 1920 and for a few years, Holiday had a somewhat stable home life. But that marriage ended a few years later, leaving Holiday and Sadie to struggle along on their own again. Sometimes Holiday was left in the care of other people.

Holiday started skipping school, and she and her mother went to court over Holiday’s truancy. She was then sent to the House of Good Shepherd, a facility for troubled African American girls, in January 1925. 

Only 9 years old at the time, Holiday was one of the youngest girls there. She was returned to her mother’s care in August of that year. According to Donald Clarke’s biography, Billie Holiday: Wishing on the Moon, she returned there in 1926 after she had been sexually assaulted.

In her difficult early life, Holiday found solace in music, singing along to the records of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. She followed her mother, who had moved to New York City in the late 1920s, and worked in a house of prostitution in Harlem for a time. 

Around 1930, Holiday began singing in local clubs and renamed herself “Billie” after the film star Billie Dove.

Billie Holiday Songs

At the age of 18, Holiday was discovered by producer John Hammond while she was performing in a Harlem jazz club. Hammond was instrumental in getting Holiday recording work with an up-and-coming clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman

With Goodman, she sang vocals for several tracks, including her first commercial release “Your Mother’s Son-In-Law” and the 1934 top ten hit “Riffin’ the Scotch.”

Known for her distinctive phrasing and expressive, sometimes melancholy voice, Holiday went on to record with jazz pianist Teddy Wilson and others in 1935. 

She made several singles, including “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Miss Brown to You.” That same year, Holiday appeared with Duke Ellington in the film Symphony in Black.

Lady Day

Around this time, Holiday met and befriended saxophonist Lester Young, who was part of Count Basie‘s orchestra on and off for years. He even lived with Holiday and her mother Sadie for a while. 

Young gave Holiday the nickname “Lady Day” in 1937—the same year she joined Basie’s band. In return, she called him “Prez,” which was her way of saying that she thought it was the greatest.

Holiday toured with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1937. The following year, she worked with Artie Shaw and his orchestra. Holiday broke new ground with Shaw, becoming one of the first female African American vocalists to work with a white orchestra. 

Promoters, however, objected to Holiday—for her race and for her unique vocal style—and she ended up leaving the orchestra out of frustration.

“Strange Fruit”

Striking out on her own, Holiday performed at New York’s Café Society. She developed some of her trademark stage persona there—wearing gardenias in her hair and singing with her head tilted back.

During this engagement, Holiday also debuted two of her most famous songs, “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit.” Columbia, her record company at the time, was not interested in “Strange Fruit,” which was a powerful story about the lynching of African Americans in the South. 

Holiday recorded the song with the Commodore label instead. “Strange Fruit” is considered to be one of her signature ballads, and the controversy that surrounded it—some radio stations banned the record—helped make it a hit.

Over the years, Holiday sang many songs of stormy relationships, including “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” and “My Man.” These songs reflected her personal romances, which were often destructive and abusive. 

Strange Fruit Lyrics

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar treesPastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ fleshHere is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather
For the wind to suck
For the sun to rot
For the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Composer: Lewis Allan

Holiday married James Monroe in 1941. Already known to drink, Holiday picked up her new husband’s habit of smoking opium. The marriage didn’t last—they later divorced—but Holiday’s problems with substance abuse continued.

Personal Problems

That same year, Holiday had a hit with “God Bless the Child.” She later signed with Decca Records in 1944 and scored an R&B hit the next year with “Lover Man.” 

Her boyfriend at the time was trumpeter Joe Guy, and with him she started using heroin. After the death of her mother in October 1945, Holiday began drinking more heavily and escalated her drug use to ease her grief.

Despite her personal problems, Holiday remained a major star in the jazz world—and even in popular music as well. She appeared with her idol Louis Armstrong in the 1947 film New Orleans, albeit playing the role of a maid. 

Unfortunately, Holiday’s drug use caused her a great professional setback that same year. She was arrested and convicted for narcotics possession in 1947. Sentenced to one year and a day of jail time, Holiday went to a federal rehabilitation facility in Alderston, West Virginia.

Released the following year, Holiday faced new challenges. Because of her conviction, she was unable to get the necessary license to play in cabarets and clubs. Holiday, however, could still perform at concert halls and had a sold-out show at the Carnegie Hall not long after her release. 

With some help from John Levy, a New York club owner, Holiday was later to get to play in New York’s Club Ebony. Levy became her boyfriend and manager by the end of the 1940s, joining the ranks of the men who took advantage of Holiday. 

Also around this time, she was again arrested for narcotics, but she was acquitted of the charges.

Later Years

While her hard living was taking a toll on her voice, Holiday continued to tour and record in the 1950s. She began recording for Norman Granz, the owner of several small jazz labels, in 1952. Two years later, Holiday had a hugely successful tour of Europe.

Holiday also caught the public’s attention by sharing her life story with the world in 1956. Her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues (1956), was written in collaboration by William Dufty. 

Some of the material in the book, however, must be taken with a grain of salt. Holiday was in rough shape when she worked with Dufty on the project, and she claimed to have never read the book after it was finished.

Around this time, Holiday became involved with Louis McKay. The two were arrested for narcotics in 1956, and they married in Mexico the following year. Like many other men in her life, McKay used Holiday’s name and money to advance himself. 

Despite all of the trouble she had been experiencing with her voice, she managed to give an impressive performance on the television broadcast The Sound of Jazz with Ben Webster, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins.

After years of lackluster recordings and record sales, Holiday recorded Lady in Satin (1958) with the Ray Ellis Orchestra for Columbia. The album’s songs showcased her rougher sounding voice, which still could convey great emotional intensity. 

Death and Legacy

Holiday gave her final performance in New York City on May 25, 1959. Not long after this event, Holiday was admitted to the hospital for heart and liver problems. 

She was so addicted to heroin that she was even arrested for possession while in the hospital. On July 17, 1959, Holiday died from alcohol- and drug-related complications.

More than 3,000 people turned out to say good-bye to Lady Day at her funeral held in St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church on July 21, 1959. A who’s who of the jazz world attended the solemn occasion, including Goodman, Gene Krupa, Tony Scott, Buddy Rogers and John Hammond.

Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday has been an influence on many other performers who have followed in her footsteps. 

Her autobiography was made into the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues with famed singer Diana Ross playing the part of Holiday, which helped renew interest in Holiday’s recordings. 

In 2000, Holiday was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Ross handling the honors.

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The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: JOSQUIN DES PREZ

The 100 most inspiring musicians of all Time: JOSQUIN DES PREZ

JOSQUIN DES PRES (b. c. 1450, Condé-sur-l’Escaut?, Burgundian Hainaut [France]—d. Aug. 27, 1521, Condé-sur-l’Escaut)

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Josquin des Prez was one of the greatest composers of
Renaissance Europe.

Josquin’s early life has been the subject of much scholarly
debate, and the first solid evidence of his work comes from
a roll of musicians associated with the cathedral in Cambrai
in the early 1470s. During the late 1470s and early ’80s,

he sang for the courts of René I of Anjou and Duke Galeazzo
Maria Sforza of Milan, and from 1486 to about 1494 he
performed for the papal chapel. Sometime between then
and 1499, when he became choirmaster to Duke Ercole I
of Ferrara, he apparently had connections with the Chapel
Royal of Louis XII of France and with the Cathedral of
Cambrai. In Ferrara he wrote, in honour of his employer,
the mass Hercules Dux Ferrariae, and his motet Miserere was
composed at the duke’s request. He seems to have left
Ferrara on the death of the duke in 1505 and later became
provost of the collegiate church of Notre Dame in Condé.

JOSQUIN DES PREZ sheet music pdf

Josquin’s compositions fall into the three principal categories
of motets, masses, and chansons. Of the 20 masses
that survive complete, 17 were printed in his lifetime in
three sets (1502, 1505, 1514) by Ottaviano dei Petrucci.

His motets and chansons were included in other Petrucci
publications, from the Odhecaton (an anthology of popular
chansons) of 1501 onward, and in collections of other printers.
Martin Luther expressed great admiration for Josquin’s
music, calling him “master of the notes, which must do as
he wishes; other composers must do as the notes wish.”

In his musical techniques he stands at the summit of the
Renaissance, blending traditional forms with innovations
that later became standard practices. The expressiveness
of his music marks a break with the medieval tradition of
more abstract music.

Especially in his motets, Josquin gave free reign to his
talent, expressing sorrow in poignant harmonies, employing
suspension for emphasis, and taking the voices gradually
into their lowest registers when the text speaks of death.
Josquin used the old cantus firmus style, but he also developed
the motet style that characterized the 16th century
after him. His motets, as well as his masses, show an
approach to the modern sense of tonality. In his later works

Josquin gradually abandoned cantus firmus technique for
parody and paraphrase. He also frequently used the techniques
of canon and of melodic imitation.

In his chansons Josquin was the principal exponent of
a style new in the mid-15th century, in which the learned
techniques of canon and counterpoint were applied to
secular song. He abandoned the fixed forms of the rondeau
and the ballade, employing freer forms of his own device.
Though a few chansons are set homophonically—in
chords—rather than polyphonically, a number of others are
examples of counterpoint in five or six voices, maintaining
sharp rhythm and clarity of texture.

The music of JOSQUIN DES PREZ: Miserere mei Deus

The Hilliard Ensemble

He then went to France (he may also have done so while at the papal chapel) and probably served Louis XII’s court. Although he may have had connections with the Ferrara court (through the Sforzas) in the 1480s and 1490s, no formal relationship with the court is known before 1503 when, for a year, he was maestro di cappella there and the highest-paid singer in the chapel’s history.

There he probably wrote primarily masses and motets. An outbreak of plague in 1503 forced the court to leave Ferrara (Josquin’s place was taken by Obrecht, who fell victim in 1505). He was in the north again, at Notre Dame at Condé, in 1504; he may have been connected with Margaret of Austria’s court, 1508-11. He died in 1521. Several portraits survive, one attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Josquin’s works gradually became known throughout western Europe and were regarded as models by many composers and theorists. Petrucci’s three books of his masses (1502-14) reflect contemporary esteem, as does Attaingnant’s collection of his chansons (1550). Several laments were written on his death (including Gombert’s elegy Musae Jovis), and as late as 1554 Jacquet of Mantua paid him tribute in a motet. He was praised by 16th-century literary figures (including Castiglione and Rabelais) and was Martin Luther’s favourite composer.

Josquin was the greatest composer of the high Renaissance, the most varied in invention and the most profound in expression. Much of his music cannot be dated. Generally, however, his first period (up to circa 1485) is characterized by abstract, melismatic counterpoint in the manner of Ockeghem and by tenuous relationships between words and music.

The middle period (to circa 1505) saw the development and perfection of the technique of pervasive imitation based on word-generated motifs. This style has been seen as a synthesis of two traditions: the northem polyphony of Dufay, Busnois and Ockeghem, in which he presumably had his earliest training, and the more chordal, harmonically orientated practice of Italy. In the final period the relationship between word and note becomes even closer and there is increasing emphasis on declamation and rhetorical expression within a style of the utmost economy.

His many motets span all three periods. One of the earliest, the four-part Victimae paschali laudes (1502), exemplifies his early style, with its dense texture, lack of imitation, patches of stagnant rhythm and rudimentary treatment of dissonance. Greater maturity is shown in Planxit autem David, in which homophonic and freely imitative passages alternate, and in Absalon, fili mi, with its flexible combination of textures. His later motets, such as In principio erat verbum, combine motivic intensity and melodic succinctness with formal clarity; they are either freely composed, four-part settings of biblical texts, or large-scale cantus firmus pieces. Transparent textures and duet writing are common.

Josquin’s 18 complete masses combine elements of cantus firmus, parody and paraphrase techniques. One of the earliest, L’ami Baudichon, is a cantus firmus mass on a simple dance formula; the simplicity of melody and rhythm and the clarity of harmony and texture recall the Burgundian style of the 1450s and 1460s. Fortuna desperata, on the other hand, is an early example of parody. Canonic writing and ostinato hgures are features. His last great masses, notably the Missa de beata virgine and the Missa ‘Pange lingua’ were preceded by works in which every resource is deployed with bravura.

Josquin’s secular music comprises three settings of Italian texts and numerous chansons. One of the earliest, Cela sans plus, typifies his observance of the formes fixes and the influences of the Burgundian style of Busnois and Ockeghem. Later works, such as Mille regretz, are less canonic, the clear articulation of line and points of imitation achieved by a carefull balanced hierarchy of cadences. Some, like Si j’ay perdu mon ami, look forward to the popular ‘Parisian’ chanson of Janequin.

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Beautiful Music

Ab Ovo by Joep Beving with sheet music

Ab Ovo by Joep Beving with sheet music download

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joep beving sheet music partitura

Joep Beving

Dutch pianist Joep Beving was catapulted into stardom when his self released debut album Solipsism, initially made for family and friends, was picked up by Spotify and brought to millions of ears around the world.

Joep Beving is a Dutch pianist, originally from Doetinchem but now based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He makes “simple music for complex emotions”. His work is often labelled as neo-classical, although Beving says he has more of a ‘pop approach’. Beving has also produced music for TV and cinema commercials.

Having studied music, sociology and economics, Joep Beving started working as a copywriter in advertising. His love for music quickly led him to Amsterdam based company MassiveMusic in 2003, where he was head of business development and strategy. In his spare time he wrote music under the alias I are Giant.

Considering himself to be an electronic music producer and/or jazz musician, Beving decided around 2008 that the music he was making didn’t really move his heart. He returned to his piano and his emotions started to flow into piano compositions. He started his own record label and released an album, Solipsism, in 2015. His music was included in several prestigious and massively popular Spotify playlists and before he knew what was happening his album had gained over 60 million streams worldwide, his Spotify artist account followed by well over a million followers.

His rise to online fame (and growing popularity all over the world, particularly in North America) was noticed by prestigious record label, Deutsche Grammophon. Beving’s second full-length release, April 2017’s Prehension, will be released worldwide.

They say you need three things to succeed in the music business – talent, timing and luck. Plus a little something extra to get you noticed. Joep Beving has all four in abundance.

At nearly six foot ten, with his wild hair and flowing beard, the Dutch pianist resembles a friendly giant from a book of children’s fairy tales. But his playing – understated, haunting, melancholic – marks him out as the gentlest of giants, his delicate melodies soothing the soul in these troubled times.

“The world is a hectic place right now,” says Joep. “I feel a deep urge to reconnect on a basic human level with people in general. Music as our universal language has the power to unite. Regardless of our cultural differences I believe we have an innate understanding of what it means to be human. We have our goosebumps to show for it.”

Joep’s music is the antidote to that hectic world of uncertainty and fear – a soundtrack for a kinder, more hopeful future; a score for the unmade film of lives yet to come. “It’s pretty emotional stuff,” agrees Joep. “I call it ‘simple music for complex emotions’. It’s music that enhances images, music that creates a space for the audience to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.”

As for the rest of Joep Beving’s story, it’s one of good fortune and better timing.

Joep (pronounced “Yoop”) first formed a band at 14 and made his live debut in his local town’s jazz festival. He left school torn between a life in music and a career in government. When a wrist injury forced him to abandon his piano studies at the Conservatoire and focus on an Economics degree, it seemed that music’s loss would be the Civil Service’s gain.

But the draw of music was too strong. “It was always in my heart,” he says, “and it always will be.” Reaching a compromise between his two conflicting paths, he spent a decade working for a successful company matching and making music for brands. “But I always had a love-hate relationship with advertising – I was never comfortable using music to sell people stuff they don’t need”.

In his spare time he played keyboards with successful Dutch nu-jazz outfit The Scallymatic Orchestra and self-styled “electrosoulhopjazz collective” Moody Allen, and dabbled in electronica with his one-man project I Are Giant. But, by his own admission: “It was not me. I had not found my own voice”.

That began to change during a trip to Cannes for the Lions Festival – the Oscars of the advertising world – when he played one of his compositions at the grand piano at his hotel… and people started to cry. “It was the first time I had seen the emotional effect my music could have on an audience.”

Encouraged by the response, Joep organised a dinner party for close friends at his home in Amsterdam, where he played them his music on the piano left to him by his late grandmother in 2009. “It was the first time my friends had heard me play music they thought should travel outside my living room. It was the push to pursue the dream of doing a solo album with just my instrument.”

A month later a close friend died unexpectedly, and Joep composed a piece for his funeral service. “I performed it for the first time at his cremation. Afterwards people encouraged me to record it so that it would be a permanent memorial to him. He was an extraordinary person.”

Inspired by the reaction, Joep wrote more tunes and recorded them in single takes over the course of the next three months in his own kitchen, playing in the still of night while his girlfriend and two young daughters were asleep. The result was his debut album Solipsism.

Turned down by the only record label he had approached, he paid to press 1,500 vinyl copies, with artwork by Rahi Rezvani (who also made the stunning video for “The Light She Brings”). Joep staged the album launch in March 2015, in the studio of hot Amsterdam fashion designer Hans Ubbink, and performed it there for the first time.

That first vinyl pressing quickly sold out, mainly to friends, and the songs were an instant hit on Spotify, whose team in New York added one tune – “The Light She Brings” – to a popular ‘Peaceful Piano’ playlist. “People started saving the tune, so they put another one on. Then they started liking the whole of my album.” Soon Solipsism was a viral phenomenon, with another tune, “Sleeping Lotus”, now over 30 million streamed plays. And all songs of both albums together have now been streamed over 180 million times.

As a result of his huge online success, Joep was invited to perform on a prime-time Dutch TV show. The following day his album knocked One Direction off the top of the charts. “Then, a few days later, Adele made her comeback – and I was history,” he laughs. But by then he had made his mark.

He was besieged by concert promoters offering shows, including a prestigious solo recital at Amsterdam’s famous Concertgebouw and his album found its way to Berlin when another friend played it in her local bar, “at 2am with everyone smoking and drinking Moscow Mules.” By chance, one of those night owls was Deutsche Grammophon executive Christian Badzura. After making contact online, they met when Joep performed at Berlin’s Christophori Piano Salon – and ended up signing with the world’s foremost classical label.

The first fruits of the new partnership are Prehension. A natural successor to Solipsism, it carries forward the musical and philosophical themes Joep identifies in his music. “I am reacting to the absolute grotesqueness of the things that are happening around us, in which you feel so insignificant and powerless that you alienate yourself from reality and the people around you because it is so impossible to grasp. I just write what I think is beautiful, leaving out a lot of notes, telling a story through my instrument, trying to unite us with something simple, honest and beautiful.”

Selected discography

2015 Solipsism

2016 A Hunger For The New – single release

2017 Prehension

2018 Conatus (https://DG.lnk.to/beving-conatus)