On this day: First Recording Session

On November 27, 1933, 18-year-old Billie Holiday recorded her first session, singing “Your Mother’s Son in Law” with Benny Goodman. She got paid 35 bucks; no royalties.

Ethel Waters (1896-1977)

Blues singer Ethel Waters was also in the studio that day and said that Billie sang like her shoes were two sizes too small. Having grown up poor and tall, Ethel knew about too-small shoes. Conceived when her mother, then 12 , was raped, Ethel was raised by abusive relatives and wed at age 13 to an older man in a violent arranged marriage that lasted just a year. Like Billie, Ethel kept on steppin’. She went on to become the highest paid woman on Broadway and the first African American to perform on radio and on Broadway with an all-white cast.

As for Billie, her first record flopped, but her career was on its way.

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