It’s hard to imagine the inimitable Billie Holliday at 100 years of age.
Images of a fresh gardenia in her hair, a sassy sway of her hips; smooth, sensuous sounds from her jazzy repertoire and the Diana Ross film “Lady Sings The Blues” makes it difficult to perceive the talented singer a centenarian.
However, had she survived past age 44, the legendary singer might be now planning her 100th birthday fete.
In her absence, the April 7 birth date will be marked at the Apollo Theater by two significant events slated to laud the achievements she accomplished during her short-lived career and also herald the landmark showplace she performed 23 times.
“It is an honor to celebrate Billie Holiday and her many contributions to the jazz and blues world, on her centennial birthday,” Mikki Shepard, executive producer for the Apollo Theater said.
On the eve of the late singer’s special day, Holiday will be inducted into the Apollo Walk of Fame joining the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Gladys knight & The Pips, Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz and other legends
“The Walk of Fame is our way of paying tribute to the Apollo Legends who have transformed the American entertainment landscape. Billie Holiday without a doubt is the personification of this. Her voice and presence permeated mainstream culture which lead to her becoming the most influential jazz singer of her day and among the most esteemed vocalist of the century. These initiatives serve as part of the Apollo’s mission to use its legacy to inform and support contemporary artists.”
Born Eleanora Fagan, Holiday had a special relationship with the Harlem landmark theatre dating back to the founding year of1934. The then, 19-year-old performed “If the Moon Turns Green” and “The Man I Love” to an entranced crowd.
Over the course of her career, Lady Day would go on to perform at the iconic venue at least 23 times.
In the late 1940s, after she lost her New York City cabaret card, the Apollo remained one of the few NYC venues where Holiday could perform.
Steven Salm, a managing partner with handlers of her legacy will accept the honor on behalf of The Estate Of Billie Holiday.
Musician / singer Cassandra Wilson and Apollo president and CEO Jonelle Procope will present the legendary singer’s Walk of Fame plaque during a ceremony prior to its installation underneath the Apollo’s marquee on 125th street.
Coinciding with the induction, Wilson, a two-time Grammy winning jazz and blues singer will release her new album “Coming Forth By Day” on the actual April 7 birthday.
“This record is a vehicle for the re-emergence of Billie’s songbook in the 21st century,” Wilson said.
Featuring original interpretations of 11 songs that Holiday recorded over the course of her career and an original by Wilson called “Last Song (For Lester)” the album “is an homage dedicated to the beauty, power, and genius of Billie Holiday. A collection of musical spells, prescriptions for navigating the dubious myths surrounding her life and times.”
On April 10, “Cassandra Wilson: A Celebration of Billie Holiday” will continue the revelry at the theater with Wilson headlining a tribute concert there for the first time.
Later this month, on March 31, “The Centennial Collection” — a newly curated single disc anthology showcasing 20 of Billie Holiday’s finest recordings will be released by Legacy Records.
For more information, visit www.apoll