This Day in Black History: March 16, 1948

Singer Billie Holiday is released from a prison in West Virginia.

Posted: 03/16/2014 12:00 AM EDT

Famed jazz singer Billie Holiday rose to fame in the 1930s and became one of the most iconic vocalists in music. But she also had several run-ins with the law. After serving 10 months in prison for the use of narcotics in her apartment, she was released on March 16, 1948.

After leaving the Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia, Holiday found difficulties in returning to work. She could not book nightclubs as police would not grant her the necessary cabaret license, believing she was still involved in drugs. Holiday continued to perform at music halls however. She was also threatened by drug peddlers.

Also known as Lady Day, her biggest records included "Strange Fruit," "God Bless the Child" and "Trav'lin Light." But in her final years, it was difficult for her to perform these songs as she began to lose her voice.

Holiday died in New York City, on July 17, 1958, at the age of 43.


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(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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