Today is actress and singer Audra McDonald’s birthday!  In April, I had the pleasure of seeing Audra perform as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.   I was absolutely blown away by the way she transformed her voice to match Billie’s vocal style.  Every nuance was spot on.  Compare below!  The play is set in a run-down bar in Philadelphia in 1959, where Billie gave one of her last performances.  Throughout the play, Audra, as Billie, staggers around the stage, slurs her words, smokes cigarettes, and tells the intimate tales of her songs.  You can hear a pin drop as she gives an introduction to “Strange Fruit” and quietly begins to croon.  She recently won a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her work in this must-see show.  This win also makes her the first person to win 6 Tony Awards for acting!  Happy Birthday, Audra!  New Yorkers- get your tickets to the show!

“Crazy He Calls Me” (performed by Audra McDonald)

“Crazy He Calls Me” (performed by Billie Holiday)

Listen to Audra sing “Summertime” and you can hear the massive transformation she made to sing like Billie:

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