If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery

In Search of Billie Holiday

By Farah Jasmine Griffin
(One World/Ballantine, Paperback, 9780345449733, 256pp.)

Publication Date: April 30, 2002

List Price: $16.00*
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Description
More than four decades after her death, Billie Holiday remains one of the most gifted artists of our time-and also one of the most elusive. Because of who she was and how she chose to live her life, Lady Day has been the subject of both intense adoration and wildly distorted legends. Now at last, Farah Jasmine Griffin, a writer of intellectual authority and superb literary gifts, liberates Billie Holiday from the mythology that has obscured both her life and her art.
An intimate meditation on Holiday's place in American culture and history, " If You Can't Be Free, Be A Mystery "reveals Lady Day in all her complexity, humor and pain-a true jazz virtuoso whose passion and originality made every song she sang hers forever. Celebrated by poets, revered by recording artists from Frank Sinatra to Macy Gray, Billie Holiday is more popular and influential today than ever before. Now, thanks to this marvelous book, Holiday's many fans can finally understand the singer and the woman they love.



About the Author
Farah Jasmine Griffin is a professor of English and comparative literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research in African American studies. She is the author of "Who Set You Flowin'": The African-American Migration Narrative and If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday, and has edited several collections of letters and essays. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper's Bazaar, Callaloo, and African American Review, and she is also a frequent commentator on WNPR's News & Notes.
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