Sarah Julia Fagan is well known as the mother of jazz legend Billie Holiday. She was born on August 18, 1896, in Maryland, United States, and lived there until she was nineteen years old. She was forced to relocate to Philadelphia after being evicted from their home because she was pregnant. Eva Miller, her older married half-sister, agreed to care for her kid in Baltimore because her parents were unable to help.
Sarah’s influence on the worlds of music and culture cannot be overstated. Despite suffering obstacles and tragedies throughout her life, Sarah’s role as Billie Holiday’s mother left an unforgettable effect on music history.
SARAH FAGAN’S CHILDHOOD
Sarah Julia Fegan was born in an American country to a black family. She went to a public school in Baltimore, Maryland, and fell in love with Clarence Holiday when she was fourteen. Sarah became pregnant at the age of 19 after falling in love with her next-door neighbor, Clarence. Clarence and Sarah were not married nor cohabiting when Sarah gave birth to her daughter Billie.
Clarence was obliged to abandon his family soon after Billie was born in order to follow his passion for jazz banjo and guitar. Sarah had to travel to Philadelphia to set up care for her infant in Baltimore with her older half-sister, Eva Miller, due to her parents’ abandonment. Sarah Julia Fagan was the twelfth member of the seventeen-person family and an American citizen of black heritage.
SARAH JULIA FAGAN’S PERSONAL LIFE
Billie and her mother moved to Harlem at the beginning of 1929. Florence Williams, who managed a brothel at 151 West 140th Street, was a well-dressed woman. Despite her young age, Billie became a prostitute for $5 per session, making her one of the town’s youngest prostitutes. On May 2, 1929, the house was raided and the residents were imprisoned. Two months after their incarceration, Sarah and Billie were freed from a workhouse.
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Eleanora Fagan gave birth to Billie Holiday on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Sarah Julia Fagan and Clarence Holiday were only 16 and 18 at the time of her birth. Her talent could have come from her father, Clarence, a great jazz performer. Billie’s life trajectory was anything but straightforward. Billie grew up without a father figure.
SARAH JULIA FAGAN’S CAREER AND RELATIONSHIP
“She worked as a prostitute in Alice Dean’s brothel” for two years after moving to New York City (Ward). She started singing in clubs to release some of the stress in her life, and “renamed herself Billie after the film diva Billie Dove.” She was recruited to join John Hammond’s band at the age of 18 when he saw her at a jazz bar in Harlem.
“She had married small-time drug dealer Jimmy Monroe, who introduced her to opium and heroin, and it proved to be an addictive acquaintance” and “her doom” by 1941, when she was 26 years old (Glasgow). Her narcotics possession conviction was upheld when she turned 32. (Glasgow). In Billie’s scene, she sang Saddest Story, and later in her career, after consuming drugs and smoking a million cigarettes, she polished her art as a master of melancholy songs.
BILLIE HOLIDAY’S RISE TO FAME
Despite her challenging background and other struggles, Billie became a well-known black American jazz vocalist. After witnessing Billie perform at a Harlem club when she was 18, John Hammond invited her to join their band. Billie then started playing in nightclubs.
She established a worldwide reputation between 1935 and 1939 when she recorded songs on Young’s piano. Billie also worked at the Society Cafe, where she met Jimmy Monroe, her drug dealer husband. Jimmy Monroe introduced Billie to opium and heroin, turning her become an addict who performed dismal songs. Many believe she later attained the position of a goddess of horrible and dismal music.
SARAH JULIA FAGAN’S DEATH
Sarah Julia has no known biography, though historians suggest she had a brief connection with trumpeter Joe in the 1940s. He died because she began using heroin and other harmful drugs. While working as a maid, Sarah Julia Fagan, the mother of legendary jazz vocalist Billie “Lady Day” Holiday, began a relationship with the son of the home’s owner.