"Lady Day" on Broadway; A show about Billie Holliday

April 21, 2014 1:44:48 PM PDT
Frank Sinatra once said every singer of his generation was touched by the genius of Billie Holiday and 'Ole Blue Eyes' often acknowledged his debt to her-the influence she had on his own unique style.

A Broadway show called "Lady Day" brings her back to life in spectacular fashion.

What Billie Holiday could do has never been duplicated. There have been better singers but perhaps none as distinctive-and none who dug quite as deep to bare her soul so it is all the more remarkable how Audra McDonald channels her as "Lady Day".

"I'm not necessarily singing to imitate her, but i'm trying to have the essence of her vocal stylings and sound," she said.

The years is 1959, a club in south Philly just a few months before the singer's death at the age of 44. She's ravaged by addiction to heroin, suffers from alcoholism, and yet: "She didn't necessarily see herself as a victim. Yeah, she absolutely saw herself as someone you know who there were a lot of knocks against, but she never you know felt sorry for herself, and she was a fighter. adds McDonald.

The show makes clear Holiday was a pioneer.

"She was the only black vocalist with this all white band, and she toured all through the south," adds McDonald.

Audra McDonald spent months listening to old tapes of "Lady Day" singing and talking to capture her unique ways. The final result is a magical time machine that takes you back to experience what made Billie Holiday so special.