I think I'm pretty lucky. Growing up, my house was always full of music. Sunday mornings I'd wake up to the symphonies of Tchaikovsky or the crooning of Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole. After school we might listen to Glenn Miller or Louis Armstrong, and Carole King was always good for a Saturday afternoon. If my mum ever got to the stereo first, it would usually be a musical, maybe Cats or Oklahoma, and my dad has always been a big jazz fan. I always got to pick what we would listen to at dinner, and more often than not it was Billie Holiday.
Billie had a truly unique and moving voice. She sang with such emotion, you can't help but hear the pain and sadness in her voice. It's a singing voice tinged with sweetness and vulnerability. And it is powerfully honest. Listening to her as a kid stirred a lot of feelings in me that I didn't quite understand. She made me feel happy and sad all at the same time. When I got a little older I felt bad for her, but I also felt her strength and I found that empowering. The first time I had my heart broken, I listened to Billie all day and night and cried. After a while I felt better, stronger and I knew that I wasn't going to die. That's the first time I think I really understood how her voice made me feel.
Billie was truly a gifted vocalist in the way that she could inspire such powerful empathy. I think she was amazing and is definitely one of my biggest influences (what? You can't hear that in my music?!)