She had a spellbinding voice and style. She overindulged in drugs and booze. She was a battered wife. She died in her 40s---in 1959. She was Billie Holiday.
The similarity to Whitney Houston is striking. Both sounded like angels. Both had their demons. Both brought a new dimension to pop music. Billie in her styling of the Blues sound. Whitney in her rich timbre and electrifying dynamics.
Strangely enough, it wasn't the passing of Whitney Houston that brought back memories of Billie Holiday's great sound. It was the musical setting of a JC Penny's TV commercial. Billie's inimitable interpretation of "I've got my love to keep me warm". What pure magic. Sensual and edgy.
Billie never won the general acclaim in our culture and society that Whitney did. Billie's exceptional talent was marginalized to a great extent by the blatant racism of the 1930s and 40s. On the other hand, Whitney 's fame and fortune only make her tragic end so much more difficult to comprehend. And explain.