Billie Holiday, one of the greatest voices of all time, was always controversial - a proud black woman who preferred white audiences, an exploited artist and a violent drug addict, a loyal friend and a vindictive lover, a blues singer who didn’t sing the blues, and when she sang the seminal protest song Strange Fruit, an enemy of the state.
Then, in 1971, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie. Over 8 years, she tracked down and tape-recorded over 200 hours of interviews with the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. Raw and brutally honest, incredible testimonies from Charles Mingus, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Count Basie, her step-parents, school friends, jail-mates, lawyers, pushers, pimps and even the FBI agents who arrested her - but Linda’s book was never finished and the tapes never heard. Until now. Anchored around these never-before-heard interviews, Billie plays out like a film noir. Mixing archive, drama, animation and still images, the film captures the complexity of a legend through the eyes of the woman whose obsession would lead to her own mysterious, untimely death.
'It’s the music that Holiday will be remembered for, however, and there’s plenty of it here and you will be taken by the sheer force of her vocals. She was the greatest singer of her age bar none, and if you aren’t familiar with her work this is a dandy place to start. If you are familiar with her work, then the interviews about her will be a treasure trove.' - Carlos deVillalvilla