Billie Holiday: The Story Behind a Name


“My name, Eleanora, was too damn long for anyone to say. Besides, I never liked it. Especially not after my Grandma shortened it and used to scream “Nora!” at me from the back porch. My father had started calling me Bill because I was such a tomboy. I didn’t mind that, but I wanted to be pretty, too, and have a pretty name. So I decided Billie was it and I made it stick.”

– Billie Holiday

Vintage promotional photograph of jazz singer Billie Holiday, featuring her looking to the side with a thoughtful expression. She wears a flower in her hair, pearl necklace, and earrings. Her signature is on the top left, expressing affection with the text 'Love always, Billie Holiday'.
Billie Holiday, circa 1940


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  • Holiday, Billie, William Dufty, and Vincent Pelote. Lady Sings the Blues. Ringwood, Vic: Penguin Books, 1992.