Douglass Hotel

Music Back in Your Own Back Yard Billie Holiday (morceau - 1938)
Was Billie Holiday born in Philadelphia as her birth certificate attests, or in Baltimore as she states in her autobiography? If the mystery remains, the Pennsylvania city remains a constant for the singer.
Billie Holiday at the Douglass Hotel in Philadelphia
"Holiday_Marker" by Michael M Stokes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“I had worked that week at the Showboat in South Philadelphia. We stayed at a little hotel around the corner in a room with a kitchenette.”

Billie Holiday in her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues published in 1956.

Along with New York and Baltimore, Philadelphia is one of the cities where Billie Holiday’s mother, Sadie Fagan, worked as a housekeeper and cook. She was only 13 years old when, on April 7, 1915, she gave birth to young Eleanora Harris Fagan. The child is not recognized by her father, the musician Clarence Holiday, then 15 years old. Facts that she will change in her autobiography where she talks about her birth in Baltimore. Entrusted to the care of her aunts and cousins, the little girl made a few stays in reform schools for young blacks where she was mistreated and raped.

Her mother brought her to New York, where she now resides, in 1928. It was here that the young Billie Holiday began to sing at a very young age, in 1933. She performed in many Harlem jazz clubs until one day in 1937 when she got a great opportunity in Philadelphia;
an audition at the Nixon Grand Theater to sing with Count Basie. It is a success.

The girl stays a few days in the city, staying at the Douglass Hotel. This institution welcomes African American artists from all walks of life without discrimination or segregation. Charmed by the establishment, the young singer would return there on each of her trips to Philadelphia.

In 1956, Billie Holiday even performed at the Showboat, a tiny concert hall in the basement of the Douglass Hotel that has become a legend for jazz fans. With only 100 seats, the Showboat had an intimate atmosphere. Billie Holiday died in 1959. After this date, the capacity of the hall was increased to 200 seats. And Philadelphia then mourns the one it probably saw born and who was Back in Your Own Back Yard.


Billie Holiday never saw her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, obtained posthumously in 1986.

1409 Lombard St

In the past, the Douglass Hotel at 1409 Lombard St was known for hosting many African American groups visiting “Philly.”

It was common knowledge that the Douglass Hotel was a place where discrimination and segregation had no place. Many African-Americans were able to stay in peace at this establishment. Later named Hotel 1409, it is now home to Citizens Acting Together Can Help, Inc. (CATCH). CATCH’s mission is to provide a full continuum of treatment, training, education, housing, consultation, and family support services to individuals with cognitive delays, behavioral health issues, intellectual disabilities, and substance abuse problems.

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Cult! music: 100 mythical music places [French Edition]

Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists!

Head to Melbourne, Australia for a stroll along AC/DC Lane before crossing the iconic Abbey Road pedestrian crossing in the company of The Beatles. Visit Janis Joplin‘s home in San Francisco and find out how Johnny Cash ended up playing his greatest hits to a crowd of prisoners in San Quentin. Travel the winding roads of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and stop in Japan to catch up with Deep Purple, Phil Collins and Daft Punk. Drive down the Tina Turner Highway before entering some of the most legendary studios in music history. Go back to the troubled origins of Billie Holiday and make a pact with Robert Johnson at the famous crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Embark immediately on an exhilarating world tour with some of music’s most iconic bands and artists! Relive the Jimi Hendrix concert on the Isle of Wight before paying tribute to Bob Marley in Jamaica.

Produced by a team of pop-culture specialists and enhanced by numerous anecdotes, Cult! musictells the secrets of the places that made the history of music.

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By Damien Duarte

Monday, February 14, 2022

Passionné par la culture pop depuis son enfance, ses références vont de Donald Duck à Batman en passant par Marty McFly. Fantripper dans l'âme, voyager sur les traces de Ghostbusters, James Bond ou des héros de romans comme Cotton Malone fait partie d'un séjour idéal et réussi !

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