Billie Holiday by Carlos Sampayo (Review)

billie holiday

Born in Baltimore in 1915, and dead too early in New York in 1959, Billie Holiday became a legendary jazz singer, even mythical. With her voice even now managing to touch so many people, we follow a reporter on the trail of the artist on behalf of a New York daily. Beyond the public scandals that marred the life of the star (alcohol, drugs, violence…), he seeks to restore the truth, revisiting the memory of Billie. Through this investigation, Muñoz and Sampayo trace, through the undertones of racism, and in the wake of the blues, the slow drift of a singer who expressed the deepest emotions in jazz. By internationally renowned Argentine artists, featuring Muñoz’ strikingly raw heavy blacks, this is not just a biography but a spell-binding art book tribute.

80 pages

I read this whilst listening to Billie Holiday sing like an angel. Such an amazing voice setting the backdrop for me to learn about her life in this absolutely stunning graphic biography.

Told as a story of a journalist writing an article about her to commemorate the anniversary of her death, it tells of her struggles with alcohol, drugs, men, the police and racism.

Parts of her story made me so sad, others angry. It is amazing that a person who had lived through so much could still find the strength to get on stage and sing like she did. It also partially explains how her voice was so full of feeling.

Until I read this, I had no idea about Billie Holiday as a person. I just knew the voice, that she had died relatively young, and the era she lived in would’ve made it difficult to be a beautiful talented black woman. This has really opened my eyes, and made me appreciate her talent even more.

Absolutely gorgeous to look at, really well told, I absolutely loved it.

RIP Billie…


Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Finished on 3rd June 2017


You can buy the book here if you wish

Billie Holiday by Carlos Sampayo


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