Billie Holiday is regarded as the penultimate jazz singer, not because she did clever things with the music, and not because of any technical proficiency (although she certainly demonstrated that; the form of the music was in her bones), but because she could tear the heart and soul out of the listener, simply by honestly revealing her innermost self in a song.  Some people do not prefer Billie, because they do not understand her voice.  But it is her voice which gives the deeper meaning to her interpretations of the music.  She is at once vulnerable, worldly, sometimes saucy, often humorous, swinging, and soulful, always soulful.  She conveys the blues so completely in every note, it’s impossible to deny the feeling.  Many try to imitate Billie, but her music comes from her own life’s experience, and this is inimitable, really.  None can possibly duplicate the genius and magic that was Billie Holiday.  Many people remark on the fact that she sang behind the beat, as if that were the secret of her style, but that is really missing the point.

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