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Performances with kind permission of Gersh Agency

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Performances with kind permission of Felix Block Erben 

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Album out now! Click image above for details.

Billie Holiday Timeline in Brief:

  • Born 1915, her mother Sadie Fagan was 13, Father was singer and musician Clarence Halliday.

  • Dealt with attempted raped at age 10.

  • Dropped out of school aged 11, needed money, had to work.

  • 1920s worked in a Brothel as a cleaner,  listened to and was influenced by Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.

  • 1929 moved to Harlem with mother. Worked also as a prostitute to make ends meet, arrested and jailed.

  • 1929-1931 - Singing Jazz Clubs Harlem

  • 1933 discovered by producer John Hammond. First record recording, age 18, with Benny Goodman.

  • 1935, age 21, Film "Symphony in Black", Duke Ellington.

  • 1935 - 1938 Recordings with Teddy Wilson, Count Basie.

  • 1938 - aged 23, first black female singer, to go on a national tour with an all white band with Artie Shaw.

  • 1939 - age 24, mention in Time Magazine. Recording "Strange Fruit"

  • 1939-1940 Sonny White affair, first brush with drugs.

  • 1940 "God Bless the Child"

  • 1940 - 1947 huge commercial success, marriage to Jimmy Monroe. Earned 250,000 USD between '44 and '47.

  • 1947, aged 32, arrest for drug possession by FBI, sentenced to a year in first female prison. FBI  Anslinger determined to ruin her. Lawyer refused to represent her at her trial. United States vs. Billie Holiday. Divorce Monroe.

  • 1948, early release. Sold out concert Carnegie Hall. Plays jazz venues NYC

  • 1949 aged 34, FBI still pursuing her, arrested again for drug possession, lost cabaret card in New York could not sing in any clubs serving alcohol.

  • 1950s health deterioration due to drugs and bad relationships.

  • 1954 European Tour.

  • 1956 2 sold out concerts Carnegie Hall.

  • 1956 Autobiography "Lady Sings the Blues".

  • 1957 Married Louis Mackay.

  • 1958 Signed Columbia Records.

  • 1959 European Tour again. Appeared London Granada TV interview.

  • 1959 final studio recordings MGM, released posthumously.

  • 1959 Cirrhosis of the liver. May 1959 taken to hospital for liver and heart trouble. Whilst in hospital FBI arrested her for drug possession, handcuffed her to her bed and refused to let hospital treat her with correct drugs. Died July 17th heart failure and edema caused by cirrhosis and treatment withdrawal. She had 50 USD strapped to her leg.

  • Posthumously nominated for 23 Grammy Awards and inducted in to the Grammy Hall of Fame. 2 award-winning films have been made about her,  and this play, various documentaries and books.

  • From 18 onwards Billie Holiday released 12 Albums, was in 4 films, had 31+ television performances, countless radio interviews. 1st black woman to tour with an all white band, first black woman in Time Magazine. As of 1936 released records under her own name. 16 Best-selling songs in 1937. "God Bless the Child" sold over 1 million copies upon its release by 1941.

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Lanie Robertson - Playwright

Lanie Robertson writes about iconic artists and the societal issues they faced in Nasty Little Secrets, The Insanity of Mary Girard, Back County Crimes, and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, which was produced on Broadway in 2014. His plays are widely produced nationally and internationally. He’s a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild, East; and the Societe des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.

Ine & Thomas Photography
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Joanna GODWIN-SEIDL- Director

 

- the actress and director studied theatre in the United Kingdom. She has been running VIENNA THEATRE PROJECT since 2006. German language theatre directing credits include Mädchen Mit Den Schwefelhölzern workshop (Ronacher Theater); Hautnah (Patrick Marber) for Theaterverein Vision (OFF Theater) Recent acclaimed musicals include Tick Tick...Boom! Marry Me A Little, Ordinary Days (Theater Drachengasse)

She enjoys choosing plays with social & political content; Dirt (Theater am Petersplatz), The Meeting (Black History Month/Theater am Petersplatz) to name a few. In 2014 she directed the hit play Topdog/Underdog (Theater Drachengasse), was pleased to receive rave

reviews for Disgraced & The Invisible Hand (2016) and starred in Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis (Dialog im Dunkeln).

 

She directed the sell out shows Sarg Niemals Nie (Theatercouch) and The Last 5 Years ( Brick 5). The Who & The What by Ayad Akhtar (Theater Drachengasse). She further directed , Building the Wall by Schenkkan , Crossing Jerusalem - Julia Pascal & The Flick by Annie Baker and the opera Barber of Sevilla at Klassikfestival Schloss Kirchstetten.

 

Most recent: A Bedfull of Foreigners at MUTH with Art for Charity, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall and Nina Simone: Four Women by Christina Ham, again celebrated by press and public. This summer she directed and starred in  two shows for Kultursommer Wien incl. Emigranten She was on stage in Relative Values by Noel Coward at Le Studio Moliere, in November 2021.

 

As a result of the pandemic started reading “1001 Nights” Live and online nightly in 2020 and will complete the whole book by 2024. So far with this project the team has reached over 2,000,000 people globally. More info  www.joannagodwinseidl.com and www.viennatheatreproject.com for upcoming shows.

Thank you to our  sponsors!

Photos: Ine & Thomas Photography

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Photo Antje Taiga Jandrig

Lynne Ann Williams is Billie Holiday

The Berlin-born American actress and singer studied musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She began performing in Virginia, which eventually brought her back to Germany. Lynne has been performing in Vienna since 2010, both in English and German. Vocally she has worked with soul and jazz bands, co-founded the trio Circle in Berlin and a duo with guitarist Ian Scionti in Seville. She was also part of "Womedy", a music comedy troupe, for two years. Lynne teaches singing, plays the flute and piano, and writes and translates lyrics. Spanish is her third language.

2019/20 Jugend ohne Gott (Julius Caesar, Direktorin, Schüler) - Theater der Jugend (TDJ), Wien. 2018 Oliver Twist (Bürgermeisterin) - TDJ, Wien. 2018 Zwei Haare auf der Brust - nach Shakespear’s Herren von Verona (Gräfin) - Open House Theatre, Wien. 2018 A Study in Scarlett-Sherlock Holmes (Lucy Ferrier, Stamford, old woman, scoundrel) Open House Theatre, Wien. 2017 Hochgeschätztes Tieparterre-eine Jazzoper (Donna) - sämtliche Spielstätten-forlaufend. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit - Open House Theatre, Wien. 2016 The Miracle Worker (Viney) - TDJ, Wien. 2015 Disgraced (Jory) - Vienna Theatre Project, Wien. 2014 Die Unendliche Geschichte (II) (Urgl) - TDJ, Wien. 2013 Wie man unsterblich wird (Annie / Mrs. Willis) - TDJ, Wien. 2012 The Right Job (Lucy Abbadon und 4 weitere Rollen) - Theater im Prückel, Wien. 2012 Alice (Die Gräfin) - TDJ, Wien. 2011 Artus (Ginevra). 2011 Stayin’ Alive-’70 Revue (Solistin) - Sommerfestspiele Melk.

Photos: Ine & Thomas Photography

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Fagner Wesley TRIO

Fagner Wesley, pianist, composer and arranger, was born in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. Fagner is self-taught and was already playing in various bands in Brazil at the age of 13. At the age of 17 Fagner moved to the capital Brasilia and studied at the "Music School of Brasilia". He later moved to Sao Paulo to complete his studies at Tom Jobim - State Music University for Jazz, specializing in jazz piano. Fagner Wesley has lived in Vienna since 2008 and is an important member of the music scene.

 

He combines his knowledge of Latin Jazz rhythms with different styles such as Afro-Bahia, Funk, and Blues. Fagner's music is heavily influenced by the "groove" and "flavor" of Brazilian rhythms. In Vienna Fagner performs with the Fagner Wesley Group, Alegre Correa Group, Iris Camaa, Gabriel Grossi 5tett, Jatoba Bigband, Duo Samambaia, Wolfgang Muthspiel and others. In 2013 Fagner recorded his first album "meu toque" with his own band "Fagner Wesley Quartet". The current cast consists of Matheus Jardim, Jojo Lackner and Gerhard Ornig. Fagner is accompanied on the piano by double bass and drums.

Jonatan Sarikoski - DRUMS

Helsinki born drummer, composer and bandleader Jonatan Sarikoski, born in 1990,has been involved in the professional music scene since 2006 and is broadly acknowledged within the Finnish jazz community. A few of his merits include

performing and recording with domestic heavyweights of the likes of Severi Pyysalo,

Jouni Järvelä, Jukka Perko, Iiro Rantala, and UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra.

While still actively involved in many groups and projects in his former homeland, as of 2017 his primary base has become Austria, and more recently Vienna, where he has embarked on broadening his horizons. In these newer surroundings he has performed and/or collaborated with internationally recognised artists such as Andy

Middleton, Julian Argüelles, Charlie Miklin, Renato Chico, Phil Robson and Wolfgang Muthspiel.

Although his music roots are deeply founded in jazz, Sarikoski has been blessed with a versatility allowing him to comfortably thrive in a wide range of stylistic surroundings while maintaining his personal approach and feel in the music. Sarikoski’s talent has in recent years increasingly branched out to composition and consequently to leading his own projects, the latest of which being his Vienna based

international group Jonatan Sarikoski Search Party, formed in 2018. The debut album of the band, The Time Is Ripe, was released in 2020 on Unit Records.

Michael Acker - BASS

Michael Acker was born on 15.01.1989 and grew up in a musical environment, working in the form of a “Canzonetta”, a vocal- and instrumental ensemble led by his mother,  where he had the chance to gain pivotal experience on different wind and percussion instruments.

 

At the age of 17 he first picked up the Bass guitar and a few years later, during his studies at the “National Academy of Music in Bucharest”, the Double bass, which would remain his main instruments.

 

After eleven years in Bucharest, Romania where he is considered one of the leading bass players, he recently moved to Vienna to broaden his horizon. Over the years he has played with some of the best musicians in the Romanian Jazz scene and also collaborating internationally with musicians such as Owen Hart Jr. (USA), Anton Eger (SE), John Betsch (USA), Nik Bartsch (CH), Antonio de Padua (BRA) or Mircea Tiberian (RO).

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Dave MOSKIN, Co-Producer

Dave grew up in NYC appearing in numerous Broadway, Theater and Television productions. 

Musical Theater credits include, among others, Berger in Hair for the VBW, Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy, Footloose, Jekyll & Hyde, Vince Fontaine/Teen angel in Grease, The Big Bopper in Buddy the Musical, Schrank in West Side Story at the Salzburger Festspiele, Eddie/Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Show, Marley in the Austrian tour of Scrooge: Eine Weinachtsgeschichte, the Rock Tenor in Bernsteins Mass with the Tonkünstler Orchester, and Musical Director/Pianist for Wiener Blut. 

Theater Productions include Jamie in Territory, Ben in IZ, Leon/Nick in Speaking In Tongues, Shakespeare in Two Gentlemen of Verona,  Winston in 1984, Charlie in Over The Threshhold, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Frank in How the Other Half Loves, Isaac in Disgraced, Nick in The Invisible Hand, Martin Sterneck in Gabriel Barylli’s Chickenshit (Butterbrot), Yvan in ART, Eli in The Who & the What, Rick in Building the Wall, Sergei in Crossing Jerusalem and Ian in Blasted. He recently musically directed "Nina Simone: Four Women" to critical acclaim.

Film credits include Tootsie, The Godfather, Manhattan, Im weißen Rössl – Wehe du singst!, Thank You For Bombing.He is also the Producer/Creator of, and plays “Jake” in, The Blues Brothers Are Back, touring Europe and appearing most recently in the Wiener Stadthalle. 

In 1999 and 2000 he represented Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest as the composer of the songs Reflection and All To You