The BBC will broadcast a new documentary titled Queens of Jazz: The Joy and Pain of the Jazz Divas, which charts the stories of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone and Annie Ross.
The 60 minute program, according to the BBC “takes an unflinching and revealing look at what it actually took to be a jazz diva during a turbulent time in America’s social history.”
It’ll feature contributions from Lisa Stansfield, Melody Gardot, Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux, Claire Martin, Anita Wardell, Barb Jungr, Carleen Anderson, Tina May, Gregory Porter and others.
The doc will air at 9pm on Friday, May 10, on BBC 4.
The documentary tracks the jazz diva’s difficult progress as she emerges from the tough, testosterone-fuelled world of the Big Bands of the Thirties and Forties, to fill nightclubs and saloons across the US in the Fifties and early Sixties as a force in her own right. Looking at the lives and careers of six singers – Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone and Annie Ross – the film talks to those who knew and worked with these Queens of Jazz. It also hears from contemporary singers who sit on the shoulders of these trailblazing talents without having to endure the pain and hardship it took for them to make their highly individual voices heard above the prejudice of mid-century America. This is a documentary about how these women triumphed – always at some personal cost – to become some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, women who chose singing above life itself because singing was their life.
No word on whether it’ll be available outside the UK for now.
There is a trailer, but, unfortunately, I can’t watch nor embed it here, because it can only be played by those in the UK.
So if you do, click HERE to see it.
Although I won’t be surprised if the trailer is eventually downloaded and uploaded so that it can be viewed worldwide.