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Wynton Marsalis and LIFE look back on the iconic sound and legacy of Billie Holiday on the 100th anniversary of her birth. 

Jolie A. Doggett
Apr, 07, 2015

On this day in 1915, one hundred years ago, Billie Holiday was born and the music industry has never been the same. Wynton Marsalis, jazz trumpeter and music extraordinaire, spoke to LIFE about how Billie Holiday influenced him and continues to inspire generations of blues singers and jazz musicians. “I listened to every record I could find of hers,” he said, “and every day I only listened to her.” According to Marsalis, Billie Holiday's ability to draw upon her the hardship of her life and combine that with an unsurpassed understanding of harmony and melody made her music stand out from the rest and pass the test of time. "What gives a person that [ability] is a mystery, that's not a matter of practice. That's a spiritual endowment that you're given," Marsalis says. Click here to see more reflections on BIllie Holiday for her 100th birthday.