She may have died much too young at just 44, in 1959, but Billie Holiday is still regarded as one of Jazz’s most recognisable voices. From our perspective there isn’t a huge amount of Christmas material that bears the Billie Holiday name, which is a shame as given her surname a Holiday album would have been seemed entirely apt.
In the absence of an overtly Christmas song there a couple of Billie Holiday numbers that regularly drop into radio playlists during December. The most popular of these is ‘I’ve Got Your Love To Keep Me Warm’ which was written by Irving Berlin. Holiday was amongst the first artists to interpret Berlin’s tale of snow, icicles, December weather and a heart on fire. Her 1937 recording came with a swinging brass accompaniment with the jazz singer sounding assured and boasting a swagger accorded by the glow of her latest love.
1941 saw the release of one of Billie Holidays most famous compositions (she co-wrote it with Arthur Herzog Jr.) ‘God Bless This Child’. ‘God Bless This Child’ was accoladed with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1976 and also placed at #58 by the RIAA in their list of Songs of the Century in 2001. A super easy-going number with a smooth instrumental backing it may not have been written with Christmas (or the baby Jesus) in mind but that hasn’t stopped it from being accommodated in plenty of Christmas compilations. There are references to the bible in the song’s lyrics so it was certainly written with religion in mind. So perhaps Christmas provides an appropriate setting for ‘God Bless This Child’ after all.
I hate straight singing.
I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it.
That's all I know...