Lady Day’s Lounge, Literary Salon or Gardenia Tea

Read Becoming Billie Holiday and then throw a celebration worthy of Lady Day. As Holiday’s jazz plays in the background, guests with flowers in their hair read passages from the book, pose for “Sophisticated Lady” photos, and pass the mic for Billie-oke. Add music videos and live jazz to the mix for unforgettable fun. Choose a theme above and one or more activities below for book clubs and teen’s and women’s groups.

1. READ: Becoming Billie Holiday before or after the event.

2. PROPS: Real or silk flowers, preferably gardenias, for hair. Flowers may be provided or guests may wear their own.

3. ATTIRE: Retro—think 1930s-1940s. (optional)

 4. DECORATIONS: Gardenias (#2 above), Billie Holiday photos (#12 below), and record albums (vinyls) from construction paper.

5. INVITATIONS: Billie Holiday postcards, CDs with message, Gardenia photo cards.

6. BACKGROUND MUSIC: Billie Holiday’s recordings. Good picks: The Lady Sings (Proper Box UK), Billie Holiday’s Gold (Hip-O Records) or Ken Burns’ Jazz Collection: Billie Holiday (Polygram).

 7. BILLIE-OKE: Sing along to Billie Holiday’s recordings. Print lyrics from: www.lyricsfreak.com/b/billie+holiday or www.lyricsdownload.com/holiday-billie-lyrics.html

8. SOPHISTICATED LADY SHOTS: Guests pose for photos with flowers in their hair. Print on the spot or send later.

9. POETRY OUT LOUD: Guests take turns reading favorite poems from the book.

10. DISCUSS: Talk about the book, using questions from the discussion guide.

11. VIEW: Screen a documentary such as Billie Holiday: The Ultimate Collection (Verve) or watch video clips on youtube (search terms “Billie Holiday live”).

12. FAVORS: Give away vintage photos of Billie Holiday. Download free from the Library of Congress’s Carl Van Vechten and William Gottlieb Golden Age of Jazz collections.

13. REFRESHMENTS: Billie’s mother Sadie baked angel biscuits and served soul food at her own restaurant. Follow the link to a recipe.

14. SHOWCASE: Invite a local jazz artist.

15. CALENDAR TIE-INS (Or schedule whenever you like.)

Billie Holiday’s birth–April 7, 1915

Billie Holiday’s death–July 17, 1959

Black History Month–February

Women’s History Month–March

National Poetry Month–April

Jazz Appreciation Month–April

Black Music Month – June

Blues Week – varies by locale

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