Award-Winning Book Channels Lady Day
To celebrate National Poetry Month and Jazz Appreciation Month in April, we are highlighting Carole Boston Weatherford & Floyd Cooper’s fictional verse memoir about Billie Holiday, entitled Becoming Billie Holiday.
Baltimore-born Weatherford, who calls Holiday her muse, felt as if the singer whispered and hummed in her ear as she wrote the book. She recreates the singer’s voice in 97 first-person poems titled after Holiday’s songs.
Cooper created the book’s art with a subtractive technique, using erasers to make shapes from a ground of paint. He then enhanced the shapes with mixed media, mostly oil-based, layered in a dry brush fashion.
Weatherford has authored more than 30 books of poetry, nonfiction, and children’s literature, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, winner of an NAACP Image Award, a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. Birmingham, 1963 won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the Jefferson Cup. Among her recent titles is Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, winner of a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.
Cooper has illustrated more than 60 children’s books. He won a 2009 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration for The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas.
Visit www.becomingbillieholiday.com to find out more about the book, the process of creating it, and the legendary Billie Holiday. There are links to videos of Holiday’s performances, reading guides, and reviews of the book.