Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shining Into the 21st

Happy birthday, Billie Holiday.

She would have been 96 years old today. Instead, she died at age 44 in the summer of 1959, physically broken from years of abuse at the hands of lovers and boyfriends, seriously ill after years of drug use and alcoholism, under investigation and awaiting arrest for drug possession. It was an ignominious end to a famously miserable life.

And yet she lived—gloriously, magically, resolutely—through her music. That voice, short of range but rich with emotive power, reached a generation yearning for vibrations that shattered the glossy veneer of the flaccid pop of the 1930s and ’40s. From her first professional stint with Benny Goodman to her last triumphant concerts at Carnegie Hall, Holiday held sway, enveloping her audience with her pain and fruitless yearning for revelation and redemption, giving immeasurable joy as a result. There were others before and after her—Ella, Sarah, Dinah—but none fascinated like Billie. She earned her place among the musical stratosphere. Long may the band swing, sway and moan in heavenly ecstasy.

Planet Ill gives loving tribute:

Shining on into the 21st century as well.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, born March 27, 1886.
Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building,  in New York. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.
 Eero Saarinen. Miller House, commissioned in 1953, finally opens to the public.
Miller House, in Columbus, IN, designed by Saarinen with Alexander Girard (interiors) and Dan Kiley. Photos courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Purchase tickets here:

Gordon Bunshaft's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, at the center of Yale University's expansive New Haven, CT, campus. The 50th anniversary of its completion is two years away.
The Beinecke during an early spring visit, 2010.

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