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Episodes
  • Mar 8 2021

    Billie Was a Black Woman is a four-part podcast series that refracts Black womanhood through the prism of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday - widely considered to be one of the most innovative artists of all time. In partnership with the Lee Daniels film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, in each episode acclaimed host and writer Rebecca Carroll dives into different facets of Billie’s life and legacy, exploring what it means to defy the narrow categorizations thrust upon Black artists, Black bodies, and Black women today.

    The full series will release on April 7, 2021.

    Billie Was a Black Woman was produced by Spoke Media in coordination with Paramount Audio. 

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    2 mins
  • Apr 7 2021

    Jazz legend Billie Holiday meant a lot of things to a lot of people. But at the end of the day, Billie was a Black woman. Academy Award nominated actress and Grammy-award winning singer Andra Day, who plays the iconic songstress in the film The United States vs. Billie Holiday, talks with host Rebecca Carroll about what it was like to inhabit Billie’s universe, the power of her most famous song “Strange Fruit,” and the fullness of her complicated humanity. 

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    33 mins
  • Apr 7 2021
    For Billie Holiday, music extended far beyond the performance - it was who she was, what she became, and how she navigated an often hostile world. Host Rebecca Carroll sits down with multi-platinum recording artist Mariah Carey to discuss her deep affinity with Billie, and with The United States vs. Billie Holiday director Lee Daniels about the responsibility of bringing the singer’s story to life.
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    23 mins

Interview: 'Billie Was a Black Woman' Complexifies the Legendary Jazz Artist Who Was Ahead of Her Time

'...The very first thing I thought was, This is a moment for Black women.'
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  • Billie Was a Black Woman
  • '...The very first thing I thought was, This is a moment for Black women.'

About the Creator, Writer, and Host

Rebecca Carroll is a writer, creative consultant, editor-at-large, and host of the podcast Come Through with Rebecca Carroll: 15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America (WNYC Studios). Most recently, she was a cultural critic at WNYC, where she also developed a broad array of multi-platform content, and a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Essence, the Guardian and New York Magazine, among numerous other publications, and she is the author of several books about race in America, including the award-winning Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America. Her latest book, Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir, was published this month, and has been optioned by MGM Studios and Killer Films with Rebecca attached to adapt and executive produce for TV.

Featured Article: All the Best Literary Screen Adaptations to Stream in 2021


There is so much to look forward to in film and TV this year—and so much audio to make you the ultimate insider. You may be surprised by how many movies and TV shows were adapted from excellent audiobooks. Get ready to dig in, because this covers just about every great adaptation for 2021, and then some. Find something great in this guide whether you listen before you watch or take a deep dive after the credits roll.

What listeners say about Billie Was a Black Woman

Average Customer Ratings
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Very Deep!

Very insightful interview. It makes me really want to see this movie! Also the sultry voice of Andra speaking so eloquently about the history and the present day social issues was just amazing to listen to.

6 people found this helpful

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Wonderful overview of the great Billie Holiday!

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this especially on Billie's birthday. It lenses so much to who she truly was. She has always been a favorite of mine. Thank you!

4 people found this helpful

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absolutely fabulous and enlightening!

this podcast had me riveted and hanging on the edge of my seat. I wanted to know more and more about the artist, The Legend, Lady Day! I cannot wait to see the United State versus Billie Holiday

3 people found this helpful

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Loved it all!

This was so thought provoking. I heard my experiences as a Black woman spoken back to me. Billie was complicated in a beautiful way. Carroll and the iconic people she interviewed gave me a glimpse into more than a legend. A black woman!

2 people found this helpful

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I never knew the depth

I just was drawn to Billie and what these podcasts opened my mind and heart and understanding of what it is like for black woman. To be informed and understand only to a certain level because although I am not a black woman I am not white either.

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eye opening

I liked this podcast and am looking forward to viewing the movie.
I was aware of Billie Holiday but this perspective on her life and career made me see her in a different way.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolutely great 💯% 😉💖👍🏾

Everyone did a wonderful job on giving their experience 2 Billie❗ Even the narrative was awesome 👌❗

2 people found this helpful

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Powerful & Relatable

A powerful glimpse into the life of Billie Holiday. I already planned to watch The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and after listening to this podcast, I want to see it much sooner than originally planned. This is a beautiful overview of the strength of Billie Holiday and the role her experiences played in the music she shared with the world. A relatable examination of Billie's life as a Black Woman in the US, and an inspiration for us to continue in exerting the strength, determination, and defiance instilled long ago.

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful Story Telling!

This podcast is one of the best produced and presented I have ever heard! It offers amazing insights from some of our generations artistic giants. every moment of it is exceptional!

1 person found this helpful

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Sad

It became clear in the first episode that Billies' story was being used to peddle certain world-view agendas.

This is sad but not surprising. The best part was the testimonies at the end.

In my lifetime, I never heard the speeches that Ms Campbell heard, and I grew up in the USA. I only learned about having 'the talk' with ones son from liberal media.

It is as if people born after a certain date have suddenly a new 'black' history, which I never had.

We need to stop singing the victim song and move on from this fabricated underdog garbage. Scarcely anywhere in the world , people have life better than in the USA.

People from every nation flock to the US to enjoy what we have enjoyed for centuries.

Lee Daniels, you can flip the script by making our heroes like Sammy Davis Jr. a hero.

Stop the victimizing stories. I personally have had enough.

Signed
Human being

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  • Julie
  • 04-24-21

So interesting

I obviously don't know how it feels to be a black woman as I am white, but I certaining understand the woman bit, It must had been so hard for black women like Billie, she was up against white people, especially in America at the time, up against people not understanding her sexuality & on top of that Men. I have always so admired her tinasity, her Amazing voice & standing up for her right. I saw the West end show The Cotton Club in 1990 in London. I was hooked.

3 people found this helpful

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  • TheZee
  • 05-09-21

Rivetting

It's a great thing to learn the truth about the force of nature that was Billie Holiday. This podcast is a history and a celebration of black womanhood.

Absolutely rivetting!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dan Sands
  • 04-30-21

Excellent, great to listen to, 5/5, but...

This podcast investigated how Billie Holiday impacted several of the interviewees in their work (i.e. Mariah Carey, Dr Angela Davis, etc) and how she should be interpreted by history and the arts through the lense of being a black woman and all that entails.

Every episode brought a unique perspective with each of the individuals and their appreciation for Lady Day, accompanied by music and archival material of Holiday or people speaking about her, and it does a good job of promoting the new movie on Hulu which I will surely be watching the first chance I get.

HOWEVER.

There was no mention of the fact that Billie's childhood was made more difficult by the fact that her mothers mixed Irish and Catholic side of the family had historically been looked down on by their relatives.

When Mariah Carey talked about her experiences of growing up mixed race with an Irish mother this would have been an opportune moment to have brought up this fact, but it wasn't touched on.

I just wanted to highlight the fact that Eleanora Fagan/Billie Holiday can be looked at through more than just a black woman lense, and that she appeals to more persons across a wider variety of spectrums.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JMD
  • 07-21-21

Tedious

Mostly laking a coherent connecting argument. Some speakers made some interesting points. Angela Davis. Others seemed just wishy washy. Mariah Carey. Overall I would rather have listened to a chronological biography with a bit of context.

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  • Michelle O'S
  • 05-28-21

Exceptional insights

Wonderful series about the iconic Billie Halliday. Great interviews that provide background to the amazing talent of Billie. Well worth listening to - just needs a soundtrack to accompany it!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-25-21

wonderfully told story of a beautiful woman. Canno

loved I it cannot wait to see this movie, strong, gifted, loved, woman well told good presenters