Billie Holiday

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Diana Ross (The Supremes)
  • Category:
    Early Influences


With her luminous voice, Billie Holiday changed jazz forever.

Her life was tough but so was she. Billie Holiday took her pain and channeled it into haunting vocal performances that resonated in your spine.

Hall of Fame Essay


Ariel Swartley

Billie Holiday didn’t just sing a song, she took possession of it. 

And she repossessed it every time she sang. From the begin­ning, even in 1933 when she was eighteen, recording for the first time (with Benny Goodman), and “scared half to death” by the big studio microphone, she liked to move in slowly. 

She would feel out the bones of a tune, lift up a lyric (something as mundane as “out of the frying pan”), shake it out, then smooth the words like a glove over the con­tours of her own heartache. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program 2000
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Billie Holiday_quote
Lady Day, such an original, so authentic, no one like her.
Diana Ross