Billie Holiday Was A Pioneer Feminist, Writes Neneh Cherry

Marking the 100th Anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth this year, Neneh Cherry introduces a special section in the new issue of MOJO (June 2015/ #259) with a personal story of the time her father Don came face to face with the legendary singer.

“As a kid, my dad, [jazz musician] Don Cherry, used to roller skate all over Los Angeles. Him and his best buddy would make their way down to a jazz club and stand out the back and watch the music through the slats in the windows,” she explains of her long connection to the jazz genius.

“One of these times, Billie Holiday was playing there. Between sets she opened the back door and found Don and his friend there. She gave them some money and asked them to go buy her some candy at the store. Then she looked down at my dad and said, ‘You sure is skinny. If there’s no bad luck, then there’s no luck at all.’”

“I’ve always felt that we owe so much to Billie Holiday and the great blues queens. They were real pioneer feminists who paved many roads for us. They made anything possible,” she writes. “Her story is deep and touching, and that lives on forever in her music. That was her gift to us.”

Get the new issue of MOJO to read the rest of our Billie Holiday feature. As another taster, here’s just one of the songs featured in their guide to her essential music: Strange Fruit.