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    The 10 Best Billie Holiday Songs You Should Listen To Right Now

    Celebrating the music icon with some of my favorite songs.

    Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915 to an absent musician father and a single mother, the Baltimore-raised jazz singer grew up in the fast life and never slowed down.

    Billie Holiday smiling in fur coat

    Along with innovative interpretations of jazz standards, Holiday wrote many of her own songs — a rare feat for jazz singers of that time.

    Billie signing in a club

    I'm celebrating the diva's extraordinary talent with 10 of my favorite Billie Holiday songs, which are all as steeped in lore as she is. If you haven’t heard these songs before, grab a drink and take a seat:

    1. "Strange Fruit"

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    With lyrics written by communist poet Abel Meeropol (who adopted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg’s children), 1939’s "Strange Fruit" is undoubtedly the most influential track she ever recorded. The song paints a harrowing portrait of horrific lynchings juxtaposed against a Southern idyll, which renowned jazz writer Leonard Feather described as “the first unmuted cry against racism.” Not only did a song like this put Holiday in vocal opposition to racist retaliation, but no record label would touch it. The record was eventually released on Commodore Records after Holiday’s a cappella performance brought executive Milt Gabler to tears.

    2. "I'll Be Seeing You"

    Billie Holiday performing at Newport Jazz Festival

    3. "Solitude"

    Billie holiday singing into microphone

    4. "Blue Moon"

    Billie Holiday with flowers in her hair and head resting on her hands

    5. "Lover Man"

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    This jazz standard is particularly associated with Holiday, who recorded it in 1941, the year she married James Monroe, an abusive playboy who was, as TLC would call it, a scrub. Monroe introduced her to opium, which set Holiday on her later path to heroin addiction (introduced by Joe Guy, another no-good musician she dated). Her 1958 live version is particularly haunting, paralleling her struggles to find a "lover man" who will treat her right.

    6. "Billie's Blues (I Love My Man)"

    Portrait of Billie Holiday gazing away from the camera

    7. "Them There Eyes"

    Billie Holiday giving a concert in the 1950s

    8. "All of Me"

    Portrait of Billie Holiday with Louis Armstrong

    9. "Easy Livin'"

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    Teddy Wilson tapped a young Holiday to sing vocals for this song in 1937, and the magical session included Young on tenor sax, Buck Clayton on trumpet, Walter Page on Bass, and Wilson on piano. Holiday's luxurious vocals weave effortlessly with their playing and capture the mood of a tie being loosened and a cigarette being sparked.

    10. "God Bless the Child"

    Portrait of Billie Holiday with questioning look and her head tilted

    What are your favorite Billie Holiday songs? Let us know in the comments below.