The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday has without a doubt left a lasting impact on the world of music, and with “God Bless the Child” being covered by legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Barbara Streisand, it is easily one of the most recognizable songs from her storied career. In her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues, Holiday explained that she was inspired to write the song after a familial financial dispute. She said that her mother had refused to lend her money, and that before ending the discussion and leaving, she uttered the now iconic lyric: “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

Writing credit for the song’s lyrics were originally given to both Holiday and co-writer Arthur Herzog Jr. equally. Later, however, it was met with a bit of controversy when both began to claim that they wrote the majority while the other only made small contributions. While we’ll never know the full story behind this he-said-she-said, one thing we know for sure is that “God Bless the Child” is a song that will continue to carry on Billie Holiday’s legacy for generations to come. 

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