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BookBrowse Reviews Bitter Crop by Paul Alexander

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Bitter Crop

The Heartache and Triumph of Billie Holiday's Last Year

by Paul Alexander

Bitter Crop by Paul Alexander X
Bitter Crop by Paul Alexander
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2024, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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Billie Holiday's haunting voice captivated thousands, but she couldn't control her personal demons.

In 1958, Billie Holiday began work on an ambitious album called Lady in Satin. Accompanied by a full orchestra for the first time in her career and nervous, she was often late to rehearsal, drunk, or both. However, no amount of alcohol could make her voice blend seamlessly with the orchestra. After the album's release, critics unleashed their disappointment in striking fashion even as the public loved what she delivered. The Kansas City Star downgraded her voice, saying it "isn't what it used to be." The Los Angeles Times was more direct in their analysis, calling the album "sad," while the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that Lady in Satin was "a [disturbing] experience for those who heard her when she was really singing."

Journalist Paul Alexander explains what the critics missed. "All the suffering, all the heartache was reflected in the damaged, tortured voice captured on the album....

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