This book delves into the history of the involvement of women in jazz. It covers how women participated in the music as well as in-depth interviews, and also includes a discography of recordings by female artists. "Dahl boldy goes where no man (or woman) has gone before. For people who love jazz...who get bleak when they think of what happened to Billie Holiday, this is their book." - Los Angeles Times Book Review
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Many people have seen [Billie] Holiday as a sacrificial brown beauty, a haunting victim-symbol, but some who knew her thought that the addictions that populated her life with pushers and police were inevitable, that she was too sensitive not to have been destroyed. Certainly her story raises some hard questions, chief among them: Could the America of her era have allowed a black woman of such sensuality and sensitivity to achieve success and wholeness? Lena Horne, another singer from the thirties who became a symbol of idealized black womanhood, poses this question as a kind of running theme throughout her autobiography. Horne says in effect that while it is indeed possible for a black woman to win through, she must also tote up the personal psychic and emotional costs in a society where racism and sexism exact enormous energies from the black woman artists. Carmen McRae, upon whom Billie Holiday made such a deep impression as a woman and singer, once analyzed her this way: "Singing is the only place she can express herself the way she'd like to be all the time. The only way she's happy is through a song. I don't think she expressed herself as she would want to when you meet her in person. The only time she's at ease and at rest with herself is when she sings."
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