The Gardenia Society’s Foundation
The Gardenia Society was originally part of The Billie Holiday Memorial Foundation formed by Nicole Holiday in 1972. Nicole Holiday is Billie Holiday’s step-sister and she wanted to leave a non-commercial, non-judgemental, impartial source of truth about Billie Holiday. Nicole spent much of her time and fortune attempting to fight off those who sought to sensationalize and commercialize Billie. From this desire, The Billie Holiday Memorial Foundation was created. Efforts quickly ran into legal challenges from multiple parties, chief among them was Billie’s estate claimed by her reported husband Louis McKay.
“The Lady Sings The Blues” is a movie based upon the book/autobiography written by William Duffy. It was never intended to be Billie’s factual life story nor an authoritative source of truth about Billie’s life. It was not really an outlet for Billie to explain or give details on events in her life. The book was intended to be sensational and interesting – and it achieved that goal. Today, we might consider the book to be part of a branding campaign. The image of Billie that we are left with from this book is shallow to say the least.
The Billie Holiday Memorial Foundation was formed by Nicole in 1972 when the movie was released. It was her assertion that the book and later the movie were not accurate pictures of her beloved Billie. The Gardenia Society was formed as a way to honor and continue her efforts. We intend to carry on in this same spirit as we prompt others to consider the history of jazz while supporting present-day live jazz performances.
The Gardenia Society’s Mission
The Gardenia Society spends our efforts not in combating Billie’s estate or brand but rather in the telling of her story within the larger story of the development of Jazz.
Jazz itself is derived from the black community in the Southern US and Caribean. By black community, we mean those who were defined by law as – not white – which included the Creole peoples of the South. Jazz rose to prominence during Billie’s lifetime partly due to the technology of recording and the distribution of those records throughout the world.
If one were to stop and think for a moment, the history of American Music has two main roots from both white and black communities. The black community might be divided into music during slavery and music after the institution of chattel slavery was ended. The distinctive music form during slavery was the Gospel (or Spirituals) and The Blues (in multiple forms, some with instruments and others as work songs).
Now, The Gardenia Society has accepted the challenge to discuss these roots of American Music. We intend to discuss the history of black people in America and the ongoing relationship between the black community and other cultures which began melting together as America grew.
We, therefore, intend to discuss music – blues, gospel, jazz but also folk, pop, R&B, rap, EDM, etc. In addition, we hope to begin shining a light and challenging long-held beliefs related to the history and contribution of the black people of America.
What to expect from The Gardenia Society
We are not an academic think tank so don’t expect us to pontificate on abstract themes or put forward propositions that give you headaches and require a big dictionary to understand.
We write about music, we host live performances, we create content hosted on YouTube and Twitch and we generate various blog posts. Our blog posts cover a wide range of topics from technology and personalities to world events.
In the end, our goal is neither 100% to entertain or to educate – it is to have some fun and get to know one another as we come to an appreciation for the people and their music.
Come Along with us for some fun; hope to see you at a show …
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