Sarah Julia Fagan
Sarah Julia Fagan

Billie “Lady Day” Holiday’s mother, the famed singer.

When Sarah and Clarence had their daughter, they were not married and did not live together. Clarence left his family soon after Eleanora was born to pursue a career as a jazz banjo and guitar performer. She moved out of her parents’ house in Baltimore when she was evicted, Maryland, for becoming pregnant, Sarah relocated to Philadelphia at the age of 19. Eva Miller, her older, married half-sister, agreed to take care of her daughter in Baltimore because she had no assistance from her parents.

About Sarah Julia Fagan

Billie had moved to Harlem with her mother by the beginning of 1929. Florence Williams maintained a brothel at 151 West 140th Street, and she was a well-dressed lady. Despite her tender age, Billie, who was just 14, also became a prostitute for $5 a time, making her one of the youngest prostitutes in town. The house was raided on May 2, 1929, and the occupants were taken into custody. Two months after spending time in a workhouse, Sarah and Billie were freed.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 7, 1915, Eleanora Fagan gave birth to Billie Holiday (Billie Holiday They were both just 16 and 18 years old when she was born to her parents; Sarah Julia Fagan and Clarence Holiday It is possible that her father Clarence, a great jazz vocalist, is the source of her talent. Billie’s journey through life was anything but easy. Throughout Billie’s life, she never had a father figure.

Family and Career

The marriage between Billie’s mother Sarah and Philip Gough, whom she wed when she was just five years old, ended in divorce. Billie began skipping school when she was nine years old. For her troublesome African American girls, she was assigned to “the House of Good Shepherd” (Billie Holiday Seven months later, she returned, but this time as a ten-year-old girl who had been “molested and abused” (Ward).

“She worked as a prostitute at Alice Dean’s brothel” for two years after moving to New York City (Ward). It was a way for her to unload some of the stress of her life, so she started singing in clubs, which is when she “renamed herself Billie after the film diva Billie Dove” (Billie Holiday At the tender age of 18, she was seen by John Hammond at a jazz bar in Harlem and invited to join his band.

“She had married small-time narcotics dealer Jimmy Monroe who introduced her to opium and heroin and it proved to be an addictive acquaintance” and “her ruin” by 1941 when she was 26 years old (Glasgow). Her sentence for drug possession was upheld when she turned 32. (Glasgow).

It was in Billie’s scene that she sang Saddest Tale, and later in her career, after she had smoked a million cigarettes and taken drugs, she became a master of terrible sad songs.

Many compilation CDs show that Billie’s recordings in the early years were often cherry, and people like me, who first learned about her through the sorrowful things, are delighted to discover all this wonderful material.


When it comes to the Billie Holiday catalog, there are two camps of thinking.

Some fans believe that her later albums are the most tragic of her career, primarily since her voice has weakened and the songs themselves are depressing.


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