Even having full hands with the FOX hit Empire, director Lee Daniels is still finding time for another project. The director is reportedly in talks to direct a Billie Holiday biopic to simply be titled “Billie”.
Billie Holiday, also known as Lady Day, was an American jazz singer known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills and was a pioneer in the field of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Holiday was only 44 when she died, and much of her music has been released after her death, but over her 26-years in the industry, Holiday managed to leave ginormous imprints on the musical industry including her recording of “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” which would became a jazz standard, and her recording of “Strange Fruit”- a song that highlights the senselessness around the lynchings of African-Americans- which she would later grow to detest but would perform anyway:
“It reminds me of how Pop died, but I have to keep singing it, not only because people ask for it, but because twenty years after Pop died the things that killed him are still happening in the South,”
Holiday has won four Grammy Awards posthumously and was inducted into The Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973.
“Billie” is set to be produced by Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum with Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks set to pen the script. R&B singer Andra Day is the current top choice for the title role, although nothing has been confirmed by her rep. The film is still currently looking for a studio and it is unknown when production would start, however, with details firming, it is reported that shooting for the picture would begin before the end of 2018.
This is not the first biopic to be made about Lady Day. Icon Diana Ross starred in Lady Sings The Blues in 1972 and in 1986 the musical Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill premiered off-Broadway with Reenie Upchurch playing Billie. The musical was later revived on Broadway in 2014 with Audra McDonald playing Day that HBO actually filmed and released on March 12th, 2016. McDonald’s performance earned her her sixth Tony Award and made her the first person to win a Tony for all four acting categories.
Have you ever listened to any of Holiday’s discography? What’s your favorite song?