1994 29c Blues and Jazz Singers: Billie Holiday

# 2856 - 1994 29c Blues and Jazz Singers: Billie Holiday

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US #2856
1994 Billie Holiday

  • Part of the Legends of American Music series
  • Set features eight Jazz and Blues singers from the 20th century

Category of Stamp:  Commemorative
Set: 
Jazz and Blues Singers, from the Legends of American Music series
Value: 
29¢, First-Class Mail rate
First Day of Issue: 
September 17, 1994
First Day City: 
Greenville, Mississippi
Quantity Issued: 
21,862,750
Printed by: 
Ashton-Potter
Printing Method:
  Lithographed
Format: 
Panes of 35 from printing plates of 210 (15 across, 14 down)
Perforations: 
11 X 10.8

Reason the stamp was issued:  The Jazz and Blues Singers stamps were issued as part of the Legends of American Music series.  They honor some of the most famous jazz and Blues singers of the 20th century.

About the stamp design:  The image on the Billie Holiday stamp was painted by veteran stamp artist Howard Koslow.  Dissatisfied with the photos of Holiday provided by the USPS, Koslow discovered the work of William Gottlieb in jazz books from the library.  Koslow met with Gottlieb and found just the right photo of Holiday.  It had been taken in the 1940s in a Manhattan nightclub.  Koslow created an acrylic painting based on the photo, and this became the stamp’s image. 
The Blues and Jazz Singers stamps were originally planned as two separate sets, and different artists were hired for each set.  When the two sets were combined into one, both artists continued with their assignments.  Magazine illustrator Julian Allen, was given the four blues singers, while Howard Koslow created the artwork for the jazz singers.  The USPS supplied photos of the singers to both artists, but they were dissatisfied with the way some of the singers were portrayed and found other sources.

First Day City:  The First Day of Issue ceremony for the set was held in Greenville, Mississippi, during the 17th annual Mississippi Delta Blues Festival.  Other cities also hosted First Day of Issue celebrations.  These included the hometowns of some of the featured singers.

About the Legends of American Music Series:  The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993, and ran until September 21, 1999.  The stamps were issued in semi-jumbo size.  The name of each performer is in white letters, sometimes on a black background to make it stand out.  The name of the set is shown running up the left side of the stamp.
More than 90 artists are represented from all styles of music:  rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk.  In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include band leaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, conductors, lyricists, and more.  The Legends of American Music Series was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.

History the stamp represents: 

Eleanora Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday, was born on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Fagan’s father was likely Clarence Holiday, a traveling musician, who left the family to pursue his music career. For much of Holiday’s early life, her mother was away from home for long periods of time for various transportation jobs, so she was raised by extended family.

Holiday had a difficult childhood and dropped out of school by age 11. She worked various jobs and eventually joined her mother in New York. Once in New York, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She adopted her stage name after actress Billie Dove.

In 1933, Holiday made her first recording at the age of 18. She recorded “Your Mother’s Son-in-Law” and “Riffin’ the Scotch.” The latter album sold 5,000 copies. Although she was relatively unknown until 1935, these first recordings are considered jazz masterpieces. Holiday impressed producer John Hammond, who claimed, “Her singing almost changed my music tastes and my musical life, because she was the first girl singer I’d come across who actually sang like an improvising jazz genius.”

In 1935, Holiday appeared in Duke Ellington’s short, Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life. That same year she recorded “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” which gave Holiday her first taste of fame. In the coming years, Holiday made a habit of taking pop songs and turning them into Jazz hits, including “Twenty-Four Hours a Day” and “Yankee Doodle Went to Town.”

In 1937, Holiday began a brief period of singing with Count Basie’s big band. She enjoyed that time, as she was able to pick the songs she sang as well as give her input on the arrangements. The following year, Holiday and Basie’s band competed against Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Band. Some were split on who won, but Fitzgerald won a poll of the audience.

In 1938, Holiday left Basie’s band and was hired by Artie Shaw. She was one of the first African American women to work with a white orchestra and the first to work full-time touring the segregated South with a white bandleader. She remained with that band for less than a year. Holiday then began performing at Café Society nightclub, where she gained even more fame for her performance of “Strange Fruit.”

In 1942, Holiday got into an argument with her mother over money. She shouted, “God bless the child that’s got his own” and stormed out. She later co-wrote a song inspired the event called “God Bless the Child.” That song would go on to be her most popular and covered of her career.

Holiday would go on to have more success in the 1940s, with “Lover Man.” In 1946, Holiday appeared in the only major film of her career, New Orleans. After a brief stint in jail for narcotics, Holiday staged a comeback concert at Carnegie Hall in 1948. She sold 2,700 tickets in advance, a record for the time. That same year she also had a short-lived run on Broadway.

Holiday embarked on a European tour in 1954 and released an autobiography in 1956. She continued to perform and record, but years of drug abuse and drinking had taken a toll on her health. She died on July 17, 1959. Years later, she would receive four Grammy Awards and be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Click here to listen to some of Holiday’s songs.

Read More - Click Here

US #2856
1994 Billie Holiday

  • Part of the Legends of American Music series
  • Set features eight Jazz and Blues singers from the 20th century

Category of Stamp:  Commemorative
Set: 
Jazz and Blues Singers, from the Legends of American Music series
Value: 
29¢, First-Class Mail rate
First Day of Issue: 
September 17, 1994
First Day City: 
Greenville, Mississippi
Quantity Issued: 
21,862,750
Printed by: 
Ashton-Potter
Printing Method:
  Lithographed
Format: 
Panes of 35 from printing plates of 210 (15 across, 14 down)
Perforations: 
11 X 10.8

Reason the stamp was issued:  The Jazz and Blues Singers stamps were issued as part of the Legends of American Music series.  They honor some of the most famous jazz and Blues singers of the 20th century.

About the stamp design:  The image on the Billie Holiday stamp was painted by veteran stamp artist Howard Koslow.  Dissatisfied with the photos of Holiday provided by the USPS, Koslow discovered the work of William Gottlieb in jazz books from the library.  Koslow met with Gottlieb and found just the right photo of Holiday.  It had been taken in the 1940s in a Manhattan nightclub.  Koslow created an acrylic painting based on the photo, and this became the stamp’s image. 
The Blues and Jazz Singers stamps were originally planned as two separate sets, and different artists were hired for each set.  When the two sets were combined into one, both artists continued with their assignments.  Magazine illustrator Julian Allen, was given the four blues singers, while Howard Koslow created the artwork for the jazz singers.  The USPS supplied photos of the singers to both artists, but they were dissatisfied with the way some of the singers were portrayed and found other sources.

First Day City:  The First Day of Issue ceremony for the set was held in Greenville, Mississippi, during the 17th annual Mississippi Delta Blues Festival.  Other cities also hosted First Day of Issue celebrations.  These included the hometowns of some of the featured singers.

About the Legends of American Music Series:  The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993, and ran until September 21, 1999.  The stamps were issued in semi-jumbo size.  The name of each performer is in white letters, sometimes on a black background to make it stand out.  The name of the set is shown running up the left side of the stamp.
More than 90 artists are represented from all styles of music:  rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk.  In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include band leaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, conductors, lyricists, and more.  The Legends of American Music Series was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.

History the stamp represents: 

Eleanora Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday, was born on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Fagan’s father was likely Clarence Holiday, a traveling musician, who left the family to pursue his music career. For much of Holiday’s early life, her mother was away from home for long periods of time for various transportation jobs, so she was raised by extended family.

Holiday had a difficult childhood and dropped out of school by age 11. She worked various jobs and eventually joined her mother in New York. Once in New York, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She adopted her stage name after actress Billie Dove.

In 1933, Holiday made her first recording at the age of 18. She recorded “Your Mother’s Son-in-Law” and “Riffin’ the Scotch.” The latter album sold 5,000 copies. Although she was relatively unknown until 1935, these first recordings are considered jazz masterpieces. Holiday impressed producer John Hammond, who claimed, “Her singing almost changed my music tastes and my musical life, because she was the first girl singer I’d come across who actually sang like an improvising jazz genius.”

In 1935, Holiday appeared in Duke Ellington’s short, Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life. That same year she recorded “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” which gave Holiday her first taste of fame. In the coming years, Holiday made a habit of taking pop songs and turning them into Jazz hits, including “Twenty-Four Hours a Day” and “Yankee Doodle Went to Town.”

In 1937, Holiday began a brief period of singing with Count Basie’s big band. She enjoyed that time, as she was able to pick the songs she sang as well as give her input on the arrangements. The following year, Holiday and Basie’s band competed against Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb Band. Some were split on who won, but Fitzgerald won a poll of the audience.

In 1938, Holiday left Basie’s band and was hired by Artie Shaw. She was one of the first African American women to work with a white orchestra and the first to work full-time touring the segregated South with a white bandleader. She remained with that band for less than a year. Holiday then began performing at Café Society nightclub, where she gained even more fame for her performance of “Strange Fruit.”

In 1942, Holiday got into an argument with her mother over money. She shouted, “God bless the child that’s got his own” and stormed out. She later co-wrote a song inspired the event called “God Bless the Child.” That song would go on to be her most popular and covered of her career.

Holiday would go on to have more success in the 1940s, with “Lover Man.” In 1946, Holiday appeared in the only major film of her career, New Orleans. After a brief stint in jail for narcotics, Holiday staged a comeback concert at Carnegie Hall in 1948. She sold 2,700 tickets in advance, a record for the time. That same year she also had a short-lived run on Broadway.

Holiday embarked on a European tour in 1954 and released an autobiography in 1956. She continued to perform and record, but years of drug abuse and drinking had taken a toll on her health. She died on July 17, 1959. Years later, she would receive four Grammy Awards and be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Click here to listen to some of Holiday’s songs.