For Women’s History Month, First Lady Chirlane McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen announced that jazz/blues singer Billie Holiday, a Flushing and Addisleigh Park resident, would be among four women who will have a statue erected in their honor.
“We cannot tell the story of New York City without recognizing the invaluable contributions of the women who helped build and shape it,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Public monuments should tell the full history and inspire us to realize our potential – not question our worth. In honoring these four trailblazers today, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to see powerful women who made history receive the recognition they deserve.”
Born Eleanora Fagan Gough (1915-1959), the celebrated jazz singer pioneered the “swing sing” sound in New York and became the first black woman to sing with a white orchestra, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
She found fame with the powerful protest song “Strange Fruit,” which was about lynching, according to the mayor’s office. Holiday was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won four Grammy awards.
Time Magazine called “Strange Fruit” the song of the century in 1999.
A monument for Holiday will be near Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, which is located at 120-55 Queens Blvd., according to the mayor’s office.
Borough President Melinda Katz looks forward to future discussions on identifying the optimal location for placement, according to her office.
“On behalf of Addisleigh Park, I would like to express our deepest appreciation for the recognition and dedication of the new statue in honor of Billie Holiday,” said Michael Scotland, president of the Addisleigh Park Civic Association. “Not only was Ms. Holiday a treasure to the Jazz community, she was a treasured member of the Addisleigh Park community where she once resided. We are thrilled she is being bestowed with this great honor during Women’s History Month.”