Books: A Right to Sing the Blues

LADY SINGS THE BLUES (250 pp.)−Billie Holiday with William Duffy−Doubleday ($3.75).

"Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen, and I was three." With this beginning, Billie Holiday, a singer who broke the hearts of a generation of jazz lovers, sets out to reveal what lies behind the blues−or at least her blues. Before she is through, she has lined out some bitter truths about being a Negro in the U.S. and some that are not too sweet about being a narcotics addict.

Billie Holiday was a "hip kitty," so she says,...

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