Arts + Culture

Music's Greatest Hits

by Kara Zuaro

LADY DAY'S BIG NIGHT
New York City, Spring 1933

The Moment: Record producer John Hammond visits Monette's Supper Club on 133rd Street in Harlem to see headliner Monette Moore, but discovers her substitute, 18-year-old Billie Holiday, instead. Hammond can't quite believe his ears, but reckons that the teenager with the gravelly, bluesy voice is the best jazz singer he has ever heard. His trusted (and musically inclined) friends confirm his gut instinct, and Hammond makes himself Billie's unofficial publicist. Holiday goes on to become enormously influential, despite her early death in 1959; poor Monette's closed down within three weeks of Billie’s discovery.

Where to go now: Harlem's legendary Lenox Lounge, once a regular stomping ground for Lady Day, serves up soul food and live music in its well-worn Art Deco–style front bar and the funky Zebra Room in back.

Lenox Lounge
288 Lenox Avenue
New York
Tel: 212 427 0253

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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