Becoming Billie Holiday
Winner of a
Coretta Scott King Author Honor
A fictional verse
Carole Boston Weatherford
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
sepia-toned art by Cooper completes this fictional verse memoir.
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
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:
- Read each webpage
- Answer your questions
carefully and accurately.
- Use complete
- Take your time and be
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