Artist: Billie Holiday
Genre: Vocal Jazz
How many (good) vocalists can say their voice is totally unique? And to add a caveat to that question in a non-sexist way, how many female vocalists can say their voice is totally unique? Billie Holiday stands relatively alone — her affects and enunciations are one in a million.
Even on her debut album, Holiday has tremendous potential energy. You can always just tell — a voice that good, with that much charisma, can only stay unpopular for so long.
Nobody else has the unique affectation that Holiday possesses; able to draw out the final syllable in an all-knowing almost-annoying persuasive drawl. Every song—every melody—is memorable just for Holiday’s mannerisms. Though not as talented as, say, Ella Fitzgerald (or even Sarah Vaughan), Holiday’s jazzy phrasing possesses more emotion than quite possibly any postwar female singer.