Jazz singer Billie Holiday is well known for her song “Strange Fruit” , but few know the song also made her a target of the Narcotics Federal Bureau. In “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” you’ll get the chance to witness the story unfold as actress Andra Day embodies the role of Billie Holiday.
“When you think of Civil Rights leaders, you think of men. When you think of Billie Holiday, you think of this brilliant tortured jazz singer that happened to have been a drug addict. I didn’t know that she kicked off the Civil Rights movement,” Director Lee Daniels said. “Before there was a Civil Rights movement, there was Billie Holiday and ‘Strange Fruit.’ The government saw that song as a threat and she was a target. That’s history and they keep it from us.”
The official synopsis reads: The legendary Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, spent much of her career being adored by fans across the globe. Beginning in the 1940’s in New York City, the federal government targeted Holiday in a growing effort to escalate and racialize the war on drugs, ultimately aiming to stop her from singing her controversial and heart-wrenching ballad, “Strange Fruit.” Led by Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels and introducing Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday unapologetically presents the icon’s complicated, irrepressible life. Screenplay writer Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, pens this intimate tale of a fierce trailblazer whose defiance through music helped usher in the civil rights movement.
The movie will also star Evan Ross, Tyler James Williams, Trevante Rhodes and Miss Lawrence.