God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song)

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"God Bless the Child"
Single by Billie Holiday
RecordedMay 9, 1941[1]
StudioColumbia 7th Ave, New York City[1]
  • Edward B. Marks Music
Billie Holiday singles chronology
"Strange Fruit"
"God Bless the Child"
"Good Morning Heartache"

"God Bless the Child" is a song written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. in 1939. It was first recorded on May 9, 1941, by Billie Holiday and released by the Okeh Records in 1942.

Holiday's version of the song was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1976.[2] It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Billie Holiday recording sessions[edit]

Billie Holiday recorded the song three times.

First recording (Session #44, Columbia/Okeh): Columbia Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City, May 9, 1941, Eddie Heywood and his Orchestra with Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Jimmy Powell and Lester Boone (alto saxophone), Ernie Powell (trumpet), Eddie Heywood (piano), Johan Robins (guitar), Paul Chapman (guitar), Grachan Moncur II (bass), Herbert Cowans (drums), Billie Holiday (vocal).[1]

Origin and interpretation[edit]

In her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues[3] Holiday indicated that an argument with her mother over money led to the song. She stated that during the argument she said "God bless the child that's got his own." The anger over the incident led her to use that line as the starting point for a song, which she worked out in conjunction with Herzog.[4]

In his 1990 book Jazz Singing, Will Friedwald[5] describes the song as "sacred and profane," as it references the Bible while indicating that religion seems to have no effect in making people treat each other better.[6]

Other recordings[edit]

Cover versions of God Bless the Child include:


  1. ^ a b c "A site dedicated to Billie Holiday's Songs and Discography". Billie Holiday Songs. Archived from the original on November 24, 2007. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  2. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". GRAMMY.org. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  3. ^ Holiday, Billie. Lady Sings the Blues, Hal Leonard Corporation, (1985) – ISBN 0-7935-2445-8
  4. ^ "The Life of a Song: 'God Bless the Child'". Financial Times. August 29, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2021.
  5. ^ Friedwald, Will. Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond, Da Capo, (1996) – ISBN 0-306-80712-2
  6. ^ Liner notes pages 6 and 7 in Billie Holiday's Greatest Hits