The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“Romance in the Dark” by Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday is considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time. “Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer spanning nearly thirty years before she lost her battle with addiction.” Holiday had a unique delivery to her performances which made her standout from other artists. Her voice was recognizable throughout her career from “years of drug use [that] altered [her voices] texture and gave it a fragile, raspy sound.”

Throughout her career, Holiday was openly bisexual and was rumored to have dated a notable amount of stage and film actresses, one including Tallulah Bankhead. Holiday started seeing Tallulah in the 40’s. This was an interracial couple, and during that time, many people disapproved of mixed race relationships, let alone it being two women. It was very controversial especially since interracial marriage in the United States wasn’t fully legal until 1967. It is speculated that her love song, “Romance in the Dark”, was written about Tallulah, but it has never been explicitly confirmed. It is left to the listener’s imagination.

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