God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday song)

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"God Bless the Child"
Single by Billie Holiday
Format78 rpm record
RecordedMay 9, 1941
  • 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 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.[1] 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.

Recording session[edit]

Session #44: 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)[2]

Billie Holiday recorded the song again in 1956 and it was included in her album Lady Sings the Blues.

Origin and interpretation[edit]

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

In his 1990 book Jazz Singing, Will Friedwald[4] indicates it 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.[5]

Other recordings[edit]


  1. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame". GRAMMY.org. Archived from the original on July 7, 2015. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ Holiday, Billie. Lady Sings the Blues, Hal Leonard Corporation, (1985) – ISBN 0-7935-2445-8
  4. ^ Friedwald, Will. Jazz Singing: America's Great Voices from Bessie Smith to Bebop and Beyond, Da Capo, (1996) – ISBN 0-306-80712-2
  5. ^ Liner notes pages 6 and 7 in Billie Holiday's Greatest Hits
  6. ^ "Discogs.com". Discogs.com. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  7. ^ Ted Gioia (September 27, 2012). "The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire". Books.google.com. p. 131. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 52 – The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 8] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  9. ^ Ofarim, Esther. "Esther Ofarim". Esther Ofarim. Retrieved December 17, 2018.