Billie was born to the name, Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915. She was born in Philadelphia but grew up in the Fell's Point section of Baltimore. Her mother, was just 13 at the time of her birth; her father, was 15. Holidays' teenage parents, Sadie Harris (aka Fagan) and probable father, Clarence Holiday, never married, and they did not live together for a long time. Clarence, a banjo and guitar player worked with Fletcher Henderson's band in the early 30s. He remains a shady figure who left his family. Clarence would often be away from home, and during the stay with Henderson, which lasted until 1932, the guitarist severed connections with the Fagans. Billie was an angry chile who lived a hard life. She was raped at the age of 10 soon she dropped out of school at an early age and began working as a prostitute with her mother. She was sent to a home for wayward girls, and soon was arrested and served four months in prison for prostitution. “Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what’s than enough”(billie holiday)
Holiday's deprived history proves she had learned how to survive extreme poverty, race prejudice and the injustice of black ghetto life by the time she was a young teen. swing: Since Holiday had very little schooling and no formal musical training, her extraordinary creative gifts were intuitive in the first place. She developed her singing in New York speakeasies and Harlem nightclubs such as Pods' and Jerry's Log Cabin, the Yeah Man, Monette Moore's Supper Club, the Hot-Cha, Alabama Grill and Dickie Wells" place. She also sang at the local Elks club in order to pick up a few extra dollars. She was the starving musician, the jazz singer who did all she could to stay alive and still do what she loves. The dedication she displayed to jazz is not easy to explain. She was a perfectionist in her fashion, depending upon her excellent ear, unique voice and honesty and love for people to keep her love alive.
Billie Holiday spent 1934 moving up the rungs of the competitive New York bar scene. By early 1935, she made her debut at the Apollo Theater and appeared in a one-reeler film with Duke Ellington She made her first record with Benny Goodman. In 1935, she got her big breakthrough when she recorded four sides, which featured What a Little Moonlight Can Do, and Miss Brown to You. She made the songs classics because of her singing ability. Her voice-quality wasn't outstanding and her vocal range was limited, but she had an uncanny ability to breathe life into a song, using things like pauses and slurs -- which made the song become a story or an experience, rather than just a group of notes sang with a voice.