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The fine work Joel E. Siegel has amassed as both a critic and (for want of a better word) compiler of American music is diminished when he resorts to shaming black writers who dare assert their claims to (in this case) Billie Holiday’s musical/ social legacy (“Lady Bountiful,” 11/9).
I don’t think the point of Farah Griffin’s essay in The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia is to disenfranchise non-African-American writers. It does, however, accomplish something that still needs to be done (among other places) in print: indicate that the “all of us” Siegel tells the reader Holiday belongs to does include African-Americans. If “we” are truly considered part of Siegel’s “us,” then he should be neither angered nor threatened by this assertion.
To quote and paraphrase one of the great European-American songwriters, Johnny Mercer: “My mama was right/ There’s [still, alas] blues in the night.”
And in the pages of the Washington City Paper.