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    The Billie Holiday Story is a glamorous and moving account of the troubled life of one of the most prolific jazz stars in America. Set to an impeccable five-piece Jazz band, Holiday’s story is told through a hybrid of gig and drama, monologues seamlessly intertwined with the lyrics of Holiday’s songs, the story behind each revealed before and during its duration. But Nina Kristofferson, writer and sole star of the show, has crafted a portrayal that is more than just an impersonation act. It is a homage to Holiday’s unique voice enhanced by dashes of Kristofferson’s own inspiring vocal flair.


    Cast your minds back to April 1915, the year that Billie Holiday was born. Life was very different for everyone then, especially a girl who seemed to find trouble wherever she looked. My dad used to listen to Billie Holiday when I was younger, but I didn’t know her songs well. However, they have the sultry style that stirs you, even if you’re not into jazz or blues. Nina Kristofferson (the writer and star of the show) has managed to take the life and songs of Billie Holiday and combine them into a performance that is as moving, as it is magical.


    The room is crowded, smoky and dark. You could hear a pin drop as the audience sits motionless, their eyes riveted on the glittering lady on the stage, holding their breath as they wait for her to sing. After keeping them waiting for a long moment, sing she finally does; the first slow velvety notes pour into the room, and that familiar, singular, exquisite voice breaks into 'Strange Fruit'. As the final echoes of the song die away, the audience remains motionless, silent, too moved by the bitter-sweet words, too awe-struck by the singer’s talent to even applaud.


    The lights dim as the five piece jazz band steps onto the stage. The clear chime of the piano keys break the silence as the double bass thrums into life and the beat of the drum kit sets the rhythm. The harmony builds as the brassy peal of the trumpet and saxophone take the symphony to a resounding crescendo and the woman in white takes her place before the microphone. The single spotlight shines on her ruby red lips as they part and that smooth voice sounds each individual word with a pulsing resonance. A fine romance indeed as Lady Day takes to the stage once more.


    You take your allocated seat and wait for the show to begin, sipping a glass of wine and talking to your companions in the media-revolutionised 21st century. Then, as soon as the lights fade, the band starts playing the kind of jazz you probably only hear if you watch a film set in the 30s, when the sound was popular. After a few seconds, Nina Kristofferson makes her appearance, splendidly clad in an elegant dress, and starts singing. It feels like you’ve been thrown back to the 30s.

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