God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song)
|"God Bless the Child"|
|Single by Billie Holiday|
|Recorded||May 9, 1941|
|Studio||Columbia 7th Ave, New York City|
|Billie Holiday singles chronology|
Holiday's version of the song was honored with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1976. 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
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).
Second recording (Session #65, her final Decca session): Los Angeles March 8, 1950, Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra (CD: Complete Decca vol.2, tk 23 & 24) Dick ‘Dent’ Eckles (fl)(ts) Charles LaVere (p) ‘Bob’ Bain (g) Lou Butterman (b) Nick Fatool (d) Billie Holiday (v) The Gordon Jenkins Singer chorus + 4 Strings
Third and final recording (Session #76, Verve): New York City, June 7, 1956, Billie Holiday with Tony Scott & his Orchestra (CD The Complete BH on Verve, viol. 7 tk 5-8) Charlie Shavers (tp) Tony Scott (cl) Paul Quinichette (ts) Wynton Kelly (p) Kennie Burrell (g) Aaron Bell (b) Lennie Mc Browne (d) Billie Holiday (v)
Origin and interpretation
In her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues 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.
In his 1990 book Jazz Singing, Will Friedwald 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.
- "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.
- "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". GRAMMY.org. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
- Holiday, Billie. Lady Sings the Blues, Hal Leonard Corporation, (1985) – ISBN 0-7935-2445-8
- "The Life of a Song: 'God Bless the Child'". Retrieved June 3, 2021.
- Friedwald, Will. Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond, Da Capo, (1996) – ISBN 0-306-80712-2
- Liner notes pages 6 and 7 in Billie Holiday's Greatest Hits