Contrasting Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald on "Summertime"

Essay by abbylucy92College, Undergraduate September 2014

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! "Summertime" is a song sung by both Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday with each of them holding their own meaning and interpretation of the lyrics by their voice alone. While listening to Ella's version of this song, one can feel soothed by the careful but confident sound of her voice carrying the lyrics inside of the music. Her voice is classy and elegant in the way that every note she sings sounds perfect and special in its own way. Her voice can be easily comparable to a brook trickling over moss-covered rocks; cool and smooth. When Ella sings the lyrics, "Summertime, and the livin' is easy, fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high" it's clear to recognize the authenticity of how relaxed she feels in the summer. She genuinely connects with the lyrics and gives an honest description of what summertime is like. While listening to the song, we almost settle on the assumption that the entire piece will be predictable with the easygoing sound of her voice and the placid style of singing. All of a sudden, the song switches over to a more upbeat tempo as to firmly prove that no artist can ever be completely predictable in their work. Just as we get comfortable in the slightly faster tempo, Ella switches her style yet again to spoken lyric as if to not only include a formal audience but a casual one too, involving all types of people into the world of music.! ! Listening to "Summertime" sung by Billie Holiday, provokes completely different thoughts than the ones that formulate when listening to Ella's voice. Billie's voice can be compared to driving to work; simple and necessary. While it doesn't sound like the words and their articulation is what's important to Billie, she recognizes her...