BILLIE features newly unearthed interviews from those who knew Holiday best — Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie among them — and features performances restored into color for the first time. It helps paint the picture of a singer with breathtaking talent and global popularity, and whose song “Strange Fruit” exposed the realities of black life in America and earned her powerful enemies over her short, turbulent life. She died almost penniless in 1959 at age 44.
The documentary weaves her story through one of her most enamored fans, Linda Lipnack Kuehl, who in 1971 set out to write a definitive biography. Over eight years, she tracked down and recorded over 200 hours of interviews with the characters that knew Holiday personally. Kuehl’s book was never finished, and the tapes never before heard until now. — Deadline