Respect Due: Cassandra Wilson Makes A Fitting Tribute to Her Idol, Billie Holiday


Today would have been Billie -Holiday’s 100th birthday and Cassandra Wilson will release a new album, Coming Forth by Day, her take on the jazz great’s songs. 

Brett Johnson Apr, 03, 2015

On what would have been Billie Holiday’s 100th birthday, Cassandra Wilson is releasing a new album, Coming Forth by Day, her take on the jazz great’s songs. Wilson talks to ESSENCE about honoring the legend.

ESSENCE: Is it challenging to reinterpret Holiday’s works?

CASSANDRA WILSON: I deal with it like I’m trying to make my grandmother’s biscuits. I kind of have an idea about the ingredients but…we [Black people] don’t imitate. 

ESSENCE: How much has she influenced you?

WILSON: Something in her is powerful, and it makes her stand out as an icon, especially for female musicians. And her knowledge of the music is older than Pythagoras.

ESSENCE: What makes Holiday’s life and musical legacy still so important?

WILSON: She’s incredibly relevant. We struggle with being ourselves and acknowledging beauty. I would hope that younger musicians would come around to listening to people like Billie Holiday.

Find Cassandra Wilson’s interview in the May issue of ESSENCE Magazine coming to newsstands soon.


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