Billie Holiday: Tain't Nobody's Business


Tain't Nobody's Business


Billie Holiday (vocals)


The Complete Decca Recordings (GRP 601)

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Billie Holiday (vocals), Jimmy Nottingham (trumpet), Buck Clayton (trumpet), Emmett Berry (trumpet), Dicky Wells (trombone), Rudy Powell (alto sax), Lester Young (tenor sax), Joe Thomas (tenor sax), Horace Henderson (piano), Mundell Lowe (guitar), George Duvivier (bass), Shadow Wilson (drums),

George Matthews (trombone), George Dorsey (alto sax), Sol Moore (baritone sax), Buster Harding (musical director)


Composed by Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins


Recorded: New York, August 17, 1949


Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

On May 27, 1947, Billie Holiday was sentenced to a year and a day for possession of narcotic drugs, remaining in custody until March 16, 1948. The publicity associated with her bust and subsequent prison sentence brought her notoriety, and her appearances began attracting the curious and thrill seekers. It was something she bridled at, so “Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” must be viewed in this context – more personal statement than enduring performance. Fans familiar with her well-publicized troubles considered it her anthem, and she frequently sang it in her stage shows. Its interest lies in how it reinforced her perceived “authenticity” while defiantly justifying her self-indulgence. Before, she'd sung from the standpoint of a woman unlucky in love; now, as an older woman, her experiences provided a new perspective from which to sing: as a woman unlucky in life. Audiences began to read her personal history into each performance as she consciously erected the legend into which she would finally step, closing the doors firmly behind her.

Reviewer: Stuart Nicholson

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Billie Holiday: Rare and Live by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Billie Holiday Performances by Stuart Nicholson
”Billie Holiday” by Stuart Nicholson (from The Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians)


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