Verve/UMe will release the official companion soundtrack for the hotly-anticipated documentary, Billie, about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday, on November 13th. Billie: The Original Soundtrack collects some of Holiday’s most popular songs featured throughout the film including “God Bless The Child,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “I Loves You, Porgy” and “Strange Fruit,” along with instrumental cues.
Billie, directed by James Erskine, explores the story of the world’s greatest jazz singer through a wealth of never-before-heard tapes, recorded in the 1970s by the journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl. Over a period of eight years, Kuehl tracked down and recorded over 200 hours of interviews with characters present throughout Holiday’s short, tumultuous life. After Kuehl’s unexpected death, however, the tapes were never heard – until now. Using state-of-the-art techniques to bring her performances to life in colour for the first time, combined with home movie footage, specially shot material, archive and still images, “Billie” plays out like a film noir and captures the complexity of a legend through the eyes of a woman whose obsession would lead to her own mysterious death.
One of the greatest vocalists of all time, Holiday’s life was also mired in controversy. Her iconic recording of anti-lynching protest song “Strange Fruit” started a notable rebellion, exposing the realities of Black life in America and consequently earning her powerful enemies. Raw, emotional and brutally honest, “Billie” is filled with incredible, unheard testimonies from musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie. Holiday’s character is also revealed through the eyes of her cousin, her school friends, lovers, lawyers, pimps and even the FBI agents who arrested her.
Riveting performances, many newly restored and colorized, are also featured throughout the film, showcasing Holiday’s timeless talent. The perfect musical companion to the film, Billie: The Original Soundtrack, includes the classic studio versions of many of these songs including “Strange Fruit,” on which Rolling Stone recently remarked, “with the return of Black Lives Matter protests to national headlines, a song written just over 80 years ago has taken on startling new relevance.”
Both the documentary and companion soundtrack offer an illuminating portrait of the beguiling Lady Day, whose influential life and legacy continues to fascinate more than six decades after her death.
BILLIE: THE OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK TRACKLISTING
1. Now or Never
2. God Bless the Child
3. Hoppin’ Around
4. Blues are Brewin’
5. Funeral in New Orleans
6. Fine and Mellow
7. Strange Fruit
8. Just One More Chance
9. My Man
10. I Only Have Eyes For You
11. I’ll Never Smile Again
12. Don’t Explain
13. I Loves You, Porgy
An Altitude and MPC presentation of a New Black Films and Reliance Entertainment Productions Documentary in association with Concord, BBC Music, Belga Films and Polygram Entertainment, Billie will be released in cinemas on November 13th. Billie: The Original Soundtrack will be available on CD, LP and digitally for streaming and download.
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