Riley Paulin Becoming Billie Holiday Carole Boston Weatherford
"'Cause I no more chose my folks than chose my name— Eleanora."
Billie Holiday was born out of wedlock on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her birth name was Eleanora Fagan.
Eleanora's father disappears, so Eleanora and her mother have to live on their own, with very little money. As Eleanora grows up, she and her mother have to live with little money, and her mother constantly has to leave for work.
"I may have been poor, may have been orphaned half the time,"
Eleanora and her mother have almost no money, and they keep getting fired from any job they manage to get. In addition, their rent is past due, and they are unable to pay it.
"Rent was past due, and the landlord threatened to cast us out on the street. We needed cash yesterday."
Eleanora realizes that her key to making money is her singing voice. She starts to go into the music industry. She starts going by Billie Halliday, then later going by Billie Holiday.
"I asked him to play a number and showed what I could do. Guests at the tables stopped chatting and chewing to listen."
Billie manages to join an actual band. She, along with the rest of her band, are able to get a relatively steady profit, and she is able to pay for an apartment for her mother to live in.
"Seventeen musicians playing by ear and breathign as one. Count Basie's big band was the jazziest party on wheels."