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That One Thing: Billie Holiday Studio Sessions

By Lotuff Leather

Each week, a member of our team picks that one thing he or she is obsessing over. This week, CEO Ellen McNulty-Brown is loving Billie Holiday’s studio session outtakes.

Lady Day walked into Columbia Records studio in February of 1958 to collaborate with arranger Ray Ellis for her last album.  For me, it is the outtakes included from Lady in Satin’s studio sessions that make the act of listening to this album so special.  

Her grainy laugh punctuates the last 15 seconds of Sinatra’s “I’m a Fool to Want You”-Take One, right before she sings her thoughts to the guys in the booth. The sound of voices emanates from the booth, providing real-time direction. There is beauty in all of this for me.  

Some might find it tedious to listen to multiple iterations of the same song, but in doing so, I think we truly get to experience the extraordinary development of an artist--exploring, agonizing over each detail, and seeking the path where perfection can be realized.

-Ellen McNulty-Brown