Why did so many jazz greats die young? Singer Billie Holiday replied to this question: “We try to live 100 days in one day.” In her 44 years, Holiday – whose restrained, emotional singing style has had a lasting impact on American pop music – lived a fulfilled but notoriously turbulent life that was plagued by addiction.
“Billie,” a new documentary out Friday on iTunes, Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video, sees Holiday as a victim of more than personal demons. The film relies on hours of audio interviews with the inner circle of Holiday conducted by the journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl, who died in 1978, before she could finalize a planned biography of Holiday. He explores the singer’s experiences with racism, sexual assault, financial exploitation and prosecution by law enforcement agencies.
Along with this darkness, director James Erskine captures the vibrancy and sperm of Holiday. Her transcendent talent is also shown in the newly colored restorations of essential performance recordings.
Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, is an eight-day holiday because of a miracle that occurred in 164 BC. Should be done. When the Jewish Maccabees rededicated the temple in Jerusalem, a lot of oil that was only enough for one day was amazingly burned for eight.
This year, the Jewish Museum’s Hanukkah Family Day, which starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday, will also have a long and unexpected life: the five-video playlist on the museum’s YouTube channel will remain online indefinitely.
This virtual event, which is free with an RSVP, invites attendees to a Hanukkah concert presented by musicians Daphna Mor and Saskia Lane in collaboration with beininu, a Jewish initiative. Viewers can also travel the world digitally by drawing Hanukkah objects from the museum’s global collection and embarking on an animated adventure with illustrator Jeff Hopkins. The art projects include hole pictures, shadow puppet theater and menorah collages. All should entertain children ages 3 and up, which is no small wonder in itself.
Do you have soul Well, get in line
As the days get colder and darker, the Abrons Arts Center rushes with a much-needed pick-me-up in December. In collaboration with the Henry Street Settlement Health and Wellness Committee, the Lower East Side Arts Center will end its season on Saturday at 7 p.m. with a virtual soul line dance party – part class, part end-of-year celebration put most of its programs online.)
Led by Dolores Brunner, the founder of New York group Empire Line Dancers, the free party will introduce attendees to new and classic line dances with hip-hop and R&B music. While soul line dance is usually practiced in person, it naturally lends itself to an era of social distancing without the need for partners or physical contact. This includes popular routines like Electric Slide, Wobble, and Cupid Shuffle.
People of all ages and levels are welcome. Zoom registration is sold out, but the event will also be streamed live at vimeo.com/abronsartsctr.
Sprightly and absorb steam
Karen Jenkins-Johnson campaigned for black art for nearly 25 years – even if people wouldn’t even look at it twice. Since April she continued this search through online programming and led a virtual discussion series with black artists and cultural producers called “Conversations on Culture”.
On Friday at 3 p.m. via Zoom (you can register on the Jenkins Johnson Gallery website), Johnson will talk to artists Enrico Riley, Blessing Ngobeni and Lisa Corinne Davis about how the past year has affected their work and communities with the hope you have for the future of both. Despite previous personal trauma, the South African painter Ngobeni, whose work references the history of the country’s political oppression and assumes a violent, dreamlike quality that evokes comparisons with the surrealist Joan Miró, still aesthetically hints at his belief that things are get better someday. Riley’s latest paintings examine the ability of African American music, particularly jazz, to strengthen. Davis’ work is more abstract and speaks for the degradation of racial complexity by our society.