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Mikael Wood
July 20, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Tribute to Billie Holiday

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Various Artists
music label
81473
genre
Jazz

We gave it a B

This salute to the jazz-vocal giant doesn’t gloss over the unsavory patches in Holiday’s history: It opens with a reading by Angela Bassett from the singer’s autobiography in which she recounts being raped at age 10; elsewhere, Kenneth ”Babyface” Edmonds channels Billie’s blues in a gorgeously spooky take on ”Strange Fruit.” It’s not all so gloomy, as Rickie Lee Jones demonstrates on her typically quirky ”They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” But as love letters go, A Tribute to Billie Holiday feels unusually honest. B

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