45 Best Billie Holiday Quotes From The Iconic Jazz Singer

Supriya Jain
Dec 12, 2023 By Supriya Jain
Originally Published on Jan 28, 2021
Edited by Flora Wilson
Billie Holiday, Wax Figure in Madame Tussauds NY museum.

Billie Holiday, real name Eleanora Fagan was one of the most iconic jazz singers of her time - her songs gave people hope and defined purposes.

Born on April 7th, 1915, to Sarah Julia Fagan and Clarence Holiday, she had a tense childhood. But who knew the star she was to become - working without any real guidance she still emerged as a prominent singer.

Her hit songs like 'God Bless This Child', 'Billie’s Blues', 'My Man' and 'I’ll See You' gained her major success owing to her unique vocal manipulation style of phrasing and tempo.

A few years before death, in 1956, her biography was published by the name “Lady Sings the Blues” that was authored by William Dufty, who a writer and a musician himself.

The book was later turned to movie in the year 1972. Unfortunately, she took her last breath on July 17th, 1959 due to cirrhosis.

Even so, the great jazz singer still remains in the hearts of many.

Read this article to find out some of the best quotes, song lyrics by Billie Holiday. Also read our articles on [Adele quotes] and Nina Simone quotes.

Famous Billie Holiday Quotes

How can an iconic jazz singer go without having their own famous quotes? Read some of the best Billie holiday quotes that are famous even today:

1. "Sometimes it's worse to win a fight than to lose."

- Billie Holiday

2. "I never hurt nobody but myself and that's nobody's business but my own."

-Billie Holiday

3. “I'm always making a comeback but nobody ever tells me where I've been.”

- Billie Holiday, 'Lady Sings the Blues'.

4. “You can't copy anybody and end with anything. If you copy, it means you're working without any real feeling.”

- Billie Holiday

5. “A kiss that is never tasted, is forever and ever wasted.”

- Billie Holiday

6. “There's no damn business like show business - you have to smile to keep from throwing up.”

-Billie Holiday

7. "People don't understand the kind of fight it takes to record what you want to record the way you want to record it."

- Billie Holiday

8. “I hate straight singing. I have to change a tune to my own way of doing it. That's all I know.”

- Billie Holiday

9. “Don't threaten me with love, baby. Let's just go walking in the rain.”

- Billie Holiday

10. “The difficult I will do right now. The impossible will take a little while.”

- Billie Holiday

11. “I can't stand to sing the same song the same way two nights in succession, let alone two years or ten years. If you can, then it isn’t music, it's close-order drill or exercise or yodeling or something, not music.”

- Billie Holiday

12. “Mom and Pop were just a couple of kids when they got married. He was eighteen, she was sixteen and I was three.”

- Billie Holiday

13. “One day a whole damn song fell into place in my head.”

- Billie Holiday

14. “I don't think I missed a single picture Billie Dove ever made. I was crazy for her. I tried to do my hair like her, and eventually, I borrowed her name.”

- Billie Holiday

15. "I always knew I could sing because I always did sing. But I never knew I could make any money out of it until I just had to."

- Billie Holiday, ‘Billie's Blues’.  

Best Billie Holiday Quotes

Some Billie Holiday quotes truly hit strongly even when we read it to today." Moon and earth are alike functioning on jazz music."  Billie's quotes talk about some great experiences in life.

Billie Holiday music album on vinyl record LP disc.

16. "No two people on earth are alike, and it's got to be that way in music or it isn't music."

- Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues (1956)

17. "It takes a bad woman to be a good godmother."

- Billie Holiday

18. “You can be up to your boobies in white satin, with gardenias in your hair and no sugar cane for miles, but you can still be working on a plantation.”

- Billie Holiday, ‘Lady Sings the Blues (1956)’.

19. “In this country, don't forget, a habit is no damn private hell. There's no solitary confinement outside of jail. A habit is hell for those you love. And in this country it's the worst kind of hell for those who love you.”

- Billie Holiday, ‘Lady Sings the Blues (1956)’.

20. “Love is like a faucet; it turns off and on.”

- Billie Holiday, ‘Fine and Mellow (1939)’.

21. “If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all.”

- Billie Holiday

22. "Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough."

- Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues (1956)

23. "You've got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body's sermon on how to behave."

- Billie Holiday, ‘Lady Sings the Blues (1956)’.

24. "If I don't have friends, then I isn’t got nothing."

- Billie Holiday

25. “They think they can make fuel from horse manure - now, I don't know if your car will be able to get 30 miles to the gallon, but it's sure going to put a stop to siphoning.”

- Billie Holiday

26. “I never had a chance to play with dolls like other kids. I started working when I was six years old.”

- Billie Holiday

27. “I've been told that nobody sings the word "hunger" like I do. Or the word "love."”

- Billie Holiday, ‘Lady Sings the Blues (1956)’.

28. “You can get in just as much trouble by being dumb and innocent as you can by breaking the law.”

- Billie Holiday

29. “They forget what it was like in those days. A whorehouse was about the only place where black and white folks could meet in any natural way. They damn well couldn’t rub elbows in the churches.”

- Billie Holiday, ‘Lady Sings the Blues’.

30. “Money, you got lots of friends. They’re crowding around your door. But when you are gone and spending ends. They don’t come no more.”

- Billie Holiday

31. “All dope can do for you is kill you... the long hard way. And it can kill the people you love right along with you.”

- Billie Holiday

32. "Singing songs like "The Man I Love" or 'Porgy" is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck."

- Billie Holiday

33. “I don't think I'm singing. I feel like I'm playing a horn...What comes out is what I feel."

- Billie Holiday

34. "I’m not good-looking and my hair isn’t curled, but my mother, she gave me something that’s going to tear me through this world."

- Billie Holiday, ‘Billie's Blues (1936)’.

Best Billie Holiday Song Quotes

It would be obvious to say that a singer has more influence with their songs. Jazz music would be nothing without any real feeling. The same applies to Billie Holiday. Her lyrics are still unique quotes to this day that touch the hearts of many:

35. “Them that's got shall get

Them that's not shall lose

So the Bible said and it still is news

Mama may have, Papa may have

But God bless the child that's got his own

That's got his own.”

- Billie Holiday, 'God Bless the Child'.

36. “Blue moon

You saw me standing alone”

- Billie Holiday, 'Blue Moon'.

37. “What's the difference if I say

I'll go away

When I know I'll come back

On my knees someday

For whatever my man is

I'm his forevermore”

- Billie Holiday, 'My Man'.

38. “I've been your slave

Ever since I've been your babe

But before I be your dog

I'll see you in your grave.”

- Billie Holiday, 'Billie Blues'.

39. “Lord I love my man, tell the world I do

I love my man, tell the world I do

But when he mistreats me

Makes me feel so blue.”

- Billie Holiday, 'Billie Blues'.

40. "The strong gets more while the weak one’s fade. Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade."

- Billie Holiday, 'God Bless the Child'.

41. "To dream my dream could be my mistake, but I’d rather be wrong and sleep right along than wake."

- Billie Holiday, 'Somebody's On My Mind'.

About Holiday

Billie Holiday, the American singer who made his own way in music starting from the bottom, she had got to have something legendary - her talent and contribution in jazz music is no secret. Her life has inspired many . Check these quotations by these great people who recognized Holiday’s talent including Barack Obama!

42. “Behind me, Billie was on her last song. I picked up the refrain, humming a few bars. Her voice sounded different to me now. Beneath the layers of hurt, beneath the ragged laughter, I heard a willingness to endure. Endure—and make music that wasn't there before.”

- Barack Obama, ‘Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance’. (2007)

43. “She could express more emotion in one chorus than most actresses can in three acts.”

- Jeanne Moreau

44. “When Billie Holiday sings a song, I hear the song, but I always hear her and her truth.”

- Tom Wapato

45. “My great hero is Billie Holiday, and I've always wanted to do an album of standards with a piano-led quartet.”

- Tim Curry

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Billie Holiday quotes, then why not take a look at Whitney Houston quotes and jazz quotes.


Main image credit: Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

Article image credit: Blueee77 / Shutterstock.com

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Written by Supriya Jain

Bachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Supriya Jain picture

Supriya JainBachelor of Commerce, Master of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.

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