Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic

Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic

Karshan Center of Graphic Art
Open January 25, 2020 through August 9, 2020

This exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, in collaboration with the Jerry Dantzic Archives, offers a vivid and intimate photographic portrait of one of the 20th century's most iconic musical figures: the consummate jazz and blues singer Billie Holiday (1915-1959). Rarely seen photographs capture Holiday's life just two years before she died at the age of 44. 

In April 1957, renowned photojournalist Jerry Dantzic gained special access to Holiday during a week-long run of performances at the Newark, New Jersey nightclub, Sugar Hill. We see her joy greeting fans on the street, life at home with friends and family, her preparations backstage, and her captivating charm at the microphone. The images capture her warmth, humanity, complexity, elegance, and star power. Dantzic's images offer an unparalleled look at an American icon, one that goes beyond the tragic narrative that frequently defines her. Sixty years after her death, Billie Holiday's passion and originality come through in every song she sang - and are forever captured in these rare, spectacular photos. 

All photographs © 2018 Jerry Dantzic / Jerry Dantzic Archives. All rights reserved.

Image Credit: Billie Holiday on stage at Sugar Hill, Newark, New Jersey, April, 1957.