Philadelphia is a jazz town. This fact will be underscored on Wednesday, October 19th when the Philadelphia Music Alliance inducts the Class of 2016 into the Walk of Fame. This year’s inductees are organist Joey DeFrancesco, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, bassist Christian McBride, bassist Jaco Pastorius, and WRTI radio broadcaster Bob Perkins
PMA Board chairman Alan Rubens said in a statement:
The Alliance is very excited to be able to specifically honor jazz this year as an extension of Philadelphia’s essential ties to this unique American art form’s rich legacy. It’s important to be reminded of the global impact and influence that Philadelphia has continued to bring to the jazz world, since the Roaring ’20s. Jazz doesn’t always get its due these days, even though it’s current as ever. Jazz is today, and it’s very much got a thriving pulse in our great city.
It’s been 100 years in the making, but Billie Holiday is finally getting a plaque on the Walk of Fame. The announcement was made by the Philadelphia Music Alliance earlier this week.
The induction ceremony will be held on October 26. For updates, follow @PhillyJazzApp on Twitter. Billie loved her man and we love Billie.
At today’s kickoff of Philadelphia Jazz Appreciation Month, it was music to my ears when Mayor Michael A. Nutter mentioned a news article about Billie Holiday in which I was quoted. I noted that Lady Day does not have a plaque on the Walk of Fame.
The Mayor is on it. He plans to talk with the Philadelphia Music Alliance, the nonprofit organization that’s responsible for the Walk of Fame. PMA touts that it is “Philadelphia’s largest and most important single monument honoring outstanding contributions to this city’s rich and diverse musical heritage.”
After the press conference, I introduced myself to Nutter. He immediately said we should work together to make sure Lady Day takes her rightful place among the jazz legends on the Avenue of the Arts.
I don’t think PMA needs to explain why Holiday does not have a plaque on the Walk of Fame. The nomination process seems to be straightforward. So while I don’t think any slight is intended, the oversight should be corrected as soon as possible.
For more info, contact All That Philly Jazz.
Billie Holiday was a true artist of her day and rose as a social phenomenon in the 1950s. Her soulful, unique singing voice and her ability to boldly turn any material that she confronted into her own music made her a superstar of her time. Today, Holiday is remembered for her masterpieces, creativity and vivacity, as many of Holiday’s songs are as well known today as they were decades ago. Holiday’s poignant voice is still considered to be one of the greatest jazz voices of all time.
Holiday began working with Lester Young in 1936, who pegged her with her now-famous nickname of “Lady Day.” When Holiday joined Count Basie in 1937 and then Artie Shaw in 1938, she became one of the very first black women to work with a white orchestra, an impressive accomplishment of her time. In the 1930s, when Holiday was working with Columbia Records, she was first introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit,” an emotional piece about the lynching of a black man. Though Columbia would not allow her to record the piece due to subject matter, Holiday went on to record the song with an alternate label, Commodore, and the song eventually became one of Holiday’s classics.