Traditional tribute albums normally feature one artist paying tribute to another in an attempt to evoke their legendary forebear. But when Nnenna Freelon set her vocal sights on songs associated with Billie Holiday, she determined that she wanted to emulate the spirit, rather than the sound, of the great "Lady Day." Freelon's sixth Concord Jazz release, Blueprint of a Lady - Sketches of Billie Holiday, coincides with the 90th anniversary of Holiday's birth, yet the six-time GRAMMY® nominee presents a moving and uniquely contemporary homage -- a distinctively refreshing take on the legendary jazz singer's firmly established contributions to music.
Blueprint of a Lady - Sketches of Billie Holiday is lovingly comprised of 15 tracks, featuring boldly fresh interpretations of tunes strongly associated with Billie Holiday. Listen to "God Bless The Child," "Don't Explain," "Them There Eyes," "Strange Fruit" (sung in a medley with a Latin-inflected "Willow Weep For Me"), or the reggae-infused version of "All of Me," and you reach the inescapable conclusion that deep admiration, not imitation, is Freelon's inspired intention.
On Blueprint of a Lady - Sketches of Billie Holiday Holiday's feisty spirit and independence, even her selection and interpretation of signature tunes, are presented against the backdrop of her time and ours, thus assuming new significance and traveling beyond mere tribute to powerful musical statement. "Billie Holiday really sang what she had to say in her own way," says Freelon. "That's one of the things that was so impressive about her; she was a survivor, and had an absolutely brilliant, innovative concept of her own."