Billie Pierce

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Billie Goodson Pierce
Portrait of Billie Goodson Pierce.jpg
Portrait of Billie Goodson Pierce playing the piano with her husband in the background.
Background information
Born June 8, 1907
Marianna, Florida
Died September 29, 1974(1974-09-29) (aged 67)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Jazz and blues pianist, singer, dancer
Instruments Piano

Wilhelmina Goodson, known professionally as Billie Pierce (June 8, 1907 – September 29, 1974), was an American jazz pianist and singer.[1]


Goodson was born on June 8, 1907 in Marianna, Florida, United States,[1] and grew up in Pensacola, Florida. She was one of seven piano-playing sisters (including Ida Goodson and Sadie Goodson) whose mother and father (Madison H. Goodson and Sarah Jenkins Goodson) also played the piano.[2] Goodson was self-taught and was never formally trained to read music. In the early 1920s, Pierce began playing professionally at the age of fifteen. Some accounts claim she toured with Gertrude "Ma" Rainey but other sources state she accompanied Ida Cox during this period.[3] She played piano with Bessie Smith for two weeks at the Belmont Theater in Pensacola, Florida in 1922. In 1929 she temporarily substituted for her sister, Sadie in Buddy Petit's band on the SS Madison in New Orleans.[4] Later in the decade she played in the bands of A.J. Piron, Alphonse Picou, Emile Barnes, and George Lewis.[1]

In the 1930s, she performed with the Mighty Wiggle Carnival, Joe Jesse's orchestra, and her own touring review. She performed at the Blue Jay Club, where she met the trumpeter De De Pierce; they married in 1935 and led their own ensemble, which served as the house band at Luthjen's Dance Hall in the 1950s. De De became blind in the 1950s causing their career to stall, but it picked up again in the 1960s as Dixieland jazz experienced a revival.[5] She was a regular on the New Orleans jazz scene in the 1950s through the early 1970s, playing in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.[1]

She died in September 1974, in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the age of 67. Her husband had died the previous November, aged 69.[1]


  • 1961 Blues and Tonks from the Delta, Billie & De De Pierce
  • 1961 Blues in the Classic Tradition, Billie & De De Pierce
  • 1962 Jazz at Preservation Hall: Billie & DeDe Pierce and Jim Robinson's New Orleans Band
  • 1991 New Orleans Music
  • 1994 In Binghamton, N.Y., Vol. 3
  • 1994 In Binghamton, N.Y., Vol. 4
  • 1995 Billie Pierce with Raymond Burke
  • 1995 With Chris Barber's Jazz Band 1960, Billie & De De Pierce
  • 2000 Gulf Coast Blues, Billie & De De Pierce[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Dead Rock Stars Club : 1970". Retrieved 2016-11-12. 
  2. ^ Smith, Jessie (1996). Notable Black Women. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc. p. 523. 
  3. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (1988). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Vol. 3. Macmillan. p. 292. ISBN 9780333691892. 
  4. ^ Feather, Leonard; Gitler (1999). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 529. 
  5. ^ Southern, Eileen (1982). Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians. Greenwood Press. p. 307. ISBN 9780313213397. 
  6. ^ "Billie Pierce | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 February 2017.