Lady in Satin (Columbia, 1958)
Lady in Satin was jazz singer Billie Holiday’s 11 studio album and the last released during her lifetime. (Her final album, Last Recording was released just weeks after her death in July 1959.) Lady in Satin was a return of sound to full orchestra arrangements that she wanted to sound in the same contemporary vein of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. The biggest “failure” of the album was that Holiday’s voice (due to years of drug and alcohol abuse) had lost its earlier range and took on a fragile, raspy sound. Whether you prefer Holiday’s earlier powerhouse voice, she never lost her emotional range and was still able to give you shivers no matter the stage of career. Lady in Satin was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2000.
Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan) was diagnosed in early 1959 with cirrhosis. On May 31, 1959, she was taken into the hospital for treatments for liver and heart disease. As she lay dying, she was handcuffed and arrested for drug possession, having her hospital room raided and placed under police guard. On July 15, she received her last rites, dying in the early morning hours of July 17 of pulmonary edema and heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver. She was only 44 years old. During her final years, Holiday had been swindled out of much of her earnings and died with a mere 70 cents in the bank. A horrible ending for such an illustrious, celebrated career.