What is a fictional verse memoir? It combines elements of the novel, biography, oral history, persona poem, and one-woman show into a unique genre. The fictional verse memoir is ideally suited to Billie Holiday's sassy, soulful and sophisticated style.



Billie Holiday Biography

Billie Holiday Timeline

Quotes from Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday Photos

Billie Holiday Facts

Video:  Billie Holiday Singing

Video:  Billie Holiday Singing Strange Fruit



Becoming Billie Holiday

Winner of a Coretta Scott King Author Honor

A fictional verse memoir by Carole Boston Weatherford
Art by Floyd Cooper

The world knew her as Billie Holiday, but first she was Eleanora Fagan--neglected by her parents, raped by a neighbor, and sent to reform school. She scrubbed marble steps, drank bootleg liquor, smoked then-legal weed, worked in a brothel, and found her voice--all before leaving Baltimore. She hit New York just as the Harlem Renaissance gave way to the Great Depression. Luckily, Eleanora had a voice. She began her singing career as a teen and, by age 25, had not only fronted the era’s hottest bands, but recorded her signature song “Strange Fruit.” Poems by Weatherford trace the singer's journey from B-girl to jazz royalty. Cinematic, sepia-toned art by Cooper completes this fictional verse memoir.


Your Task

Your task is very simple:  You are to follow the links below to get a better understanding of the time period of the 1950s and the jazz music scene of which Billie Holiday became a star. 

Many of the websites that you will be visiting hold a vast amount of information about Holiday and the time period.  However, because we are pressed for time, it will be up to you to decide how much time you are to spend on each site. 

You are welcome to visit this site again from home if you would like to learn more.  However, use your time wisely to complete this project during your assigned lab time before you go off course exploring. 

Here are some things to remember while answering you questions:

  1. Read each webpage carefully.
  2. Answer your questions carefully and accurately.
  3. Use complete sentences.
  4. Take your time and be neat.

Click here to access a copy of the worksheet if you don't already one. 

Okay, let's get started!

First let's make sure you understand what you need to do.  The links on the left are for you to explore.  It is important that you read carefully.  You aren't only reading for the answers, but to get a better understanding about the life of Holiday and her music. 

So get your pencil, paper, and reading eyes ready for the quest! If you get lost, just click on the back button of the browser or ask Mrs. Feniello or Miss Cook for help.