Wayna Performs Billie Holiday Tribute

Above: Ethiopia-born Grammy-nominated singer Wayna pays
tribute to Billie Holiday at Blues Alley in Washington, DC. The
artist is also preparing to release a new EP called ‘Soul and
The City’. Stay tuned for Tadias’ interview with Wayna about
her new extended play.

Watch: Preview performance on FOX News

About Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

Source: PBS
Considered by many to be the greatest jazz vocalist of all time, Billie Holiday lived a tempestuous and difficult life. Her singing expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, she left behind a body of work as great as any vocalist before or since.

Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915, Billie Holiday spent much of her young life in Baltimore, Maryland. Raised primarily by her mother, Holiday had only a tenuous connection with her father, who was a jazz guitarist in Fletcher Henderson’s band. Living in extreme poverty, Holiday dropped out of school in the fifth grade and found a job running errands in a brothel. When she was twelve, Holiday moved with her mother to Harlem, where she was eventually arrested for prostitution.

Desperate for money, Holiday looked for work as a dancer at a Harlem speakeasy. When there wasn’t an opening for a dancer, she auditioned as a singer. Long interested in both jazz and blues, Holiday wowed the owner and found herself singing at the popular Pod and Jerry’s Log Cabin. This led to a number of other jobs in Harlem jazz clubs, and by 1933 she had her first major breakthrough. She was only twenty when the well-connected jazz writer and producer John Hammond heard her fill in for a better-known performer. Soon after, he reported that she was the greatest singer he had ever heard. Her bluesy vocal style brought a slow and rough quality to the jazz standards that were often upbeat and light. This combination made for poignant and distinctive renditions of songs that were already standards. By slowing the tone with emotive vocals that reset the timing and rhythm, she added a new dimension to jazz singing. Read more.

Video: Billie Holiday – I’m A Fool To Want You

Billie Holiday:I’m A Fool To Want YouMore bloopers are a click away

3 Responses to “Wayna Performs Billie Holiday Tribute”


  1. 1 Amazed Oct 21st, 2009 at 9:29 am

    this is amazing. sends chills through my bones. What a voice!

  2. 2 Matt Andrea Oct 22nd, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    I was at Blues Alley for Wayna’s second set Wednesday night. It was clear that, in preparation for her performance, she had immersed herself in Billie’s music and persona. The result was electrifying! Wayna and the excellent jazz combo that accompanied her rocked the packed house. I hope she takes this fine show on the road.

  3. 3 Tsehai Oct 24th, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Wayna, you are wonderful! You have proved my belief that if Ethiopians are given the opportunities they can get any where they want to get to. You are such a classy and brilliant artist. I wish you the best.

    Ye etyopia Amlak yetebekesh!

Comments are currently closed.