Happy Birthday Billie Holiday!

Billie Holiday (1915-1959) is a legendary Jazz ancestor. A live recording of her music from a 1956 performance in New York city has been finally uncovered., originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos.

Ninety-five years ago, on April 7th, 1915, Eleanora Fagan was born. By 1929, Billie Holiday began to come alive.

Each year on Lady Day’s birthday, WKCR 89.9FM NY, Columbia University’s student run radio station, broadcasts 24hrs of her music. The birthday party starts at midnight April 7th and continues until midnight April 8th.

WKCR is committed to jazz programming and does it ever deliver! I learned about the Billie Holiday birthday broadcast in my Twitter stream. I clicked on the Mp3 link on the station’s website which opened the channel in my iTunes. The DJs read the liner notes from the recordings, giving ‘props’ to the ‘alligators’ (alligator was the nickname jazz musicians called each other). Jazz DJ and historian Phil Schaap commandeered the controls this afternoon and provided a more extensive account of Holiday’s music, personal history and other fascinating jazz anecdotes.

As I listened to this auditory delicacy streaming live online, I was reminded of WEBR’s “Jazz in the Nighttime” Buffalo’s longest-lasting jazz program hosted by Al Wallack. Those were the days when live performances were featured from some of  the Queen City’s greatest jazz venues.

Then federal government cuts in funding crimped the jazz style and “Jazz in the Nighttime” faded into glory.

WKCR regularly features Birthday Broadcasts, Memorial Broadcasts and other jazz tributes. You can read more about the WKCR jazz programming and history here.

The next jazz Birthday Broadcast is April 22, celebrating the 88th birth-anniversary of Charles Mingus.

I’ll have to remember to bring a cupcake and a candle.