Women in Music – Blues and Jazz

American Women in Jazz: 1900 to the Present: Their Words, Lives, and Music by Sally Placksin. 1955. Penguin, 332 pages.

A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them: Blues and the Women Who Sang Them by Buzzy Jackson. 2005. W. W. Norton & Company, 338 pages.

Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis. 1998. Pantheon, 427 pages.

Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz by Chris Becker. 2015. Beckeresque Press, 328 pages.

Jazzwomen: Conversations With Twenty-One Musicians (Includes CD) by Wayne Enstice and Janis Stockhouse. 2004. Indiana University Press, 392 pages.

Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazz Women by Linda Dahl. 2004. Limelight Editions, 371 pages.

Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s by Sherrie Tucker. 2000. Duke University Press Books, 424 pages.

Betty Carter

Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter by William R. Bauer. 2002. University of Michigan Press, 456 pages.

Ella Fitzgerald

ELLA: A Biography of the Legendary Ella Fitzgerald by Geoffrey Mark. 2018. Ultimate Symbol, 464 pages.

Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz by Stuart Nicholson. 1994. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 334 pages.

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday by Carlos Sampayo (Author) and Jose Muñoz (Illustrator). 2017. NBM Publishing, 80 pages. [graphic novel]

Billie Holiday: The Musician and the Myth by John Szwed. 2015. Viking, 240 pages.

If You Can’t Be Free, Be A Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday by Farah Griffin. 2001. Free Press, 256 pages.

Jerry Dantzic: Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill by Jerry Dantzic and Grayson Dantzic. 2017. Thames & Hudson, 144 pages.

Lady Day: The Many Faces Of Billie Holiday by Robert O’Meally. 2000. Da Capo Press, 208 pages.

Lady Sings the Blues: The 50th-Anniversary Edition by Billie Holiday with William Dufty. 2006. Three Rivers Press, 256 pages.

Religion Around Billie Holiday by Tracy Fessenden. 2018. Penn State University Press, 280 pages.

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society And An Early Cry For Civil Rights by David Margolick. 2002.  Canongate Books Ltd., 176 pages.

Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song by David Margolick. 2001. Ecco, 168 pages.

Wishing on the Moon: The Life and Times of Billie Holiday by Donald Clarke. 1994. Viking, 480 pages.

With Billie: A New Look at the Unforgettable Lady Day by Julia Blackburn. 2005. Pantheon, 368 pages.

Lena Horne

Lena: A Personal and Professional Biography of Lena Horne by James Haskins with Kathleen Benson. 1986. Stein & Day Pub, 226 pages.

Lena Horne by James Haskins. 1983. Putnam Juvenile, 160 pages.

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin. 2009. Atria, 608 pages.

Etta James

Rage to Survive by Etta James. 1995. Villard, 271 pages.

Peggy Lee

Fever: The Life and Music of Miss Peggy Lee by Peter Richmond. 2006. Henry Holt and Co., 464 pages.

Is That All There Is?: The Strange Life of Peggy Lee by James Gavin. 2014. Atria, 608 pages.

Memphis Minnie

Woman with Guitar: Memphis Minnie’s Blues (Revised and expanded edition) by Paul Garon. 2014. City Lights Publishers, 408 pages.

Anita O’Day

High Times Hard Times by Anita O’Day with George Eells. 2004. Limelight Editions, 376 pages.

Gertrude “Ma” Rainey

Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey by Sandra R. Lieb. 1982. Univ of Massachusetts Press, 226 pages.

Bessie Smith

Bessie (Revised and expanded edition) by Chris Albertson. 2003. Yale University Press, 336 pages.

Big Mama Thornton

Big Mama Thornton: The Life and Music by Michael Spörke. 2014. McFarland, 200 pages.

Sarah Vaughn

Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan by Elaine M. Hayes. 2017. Ecco, 427 pages.

Dinah Washington

Queen: The Life and Music of Dinah Washington by Nadine Cohodas. 2007. Pantheon, 576 pages.

Ethel Waters

Heat Wave: The Life and Career of Ethel Waters by Donald Bogle. 2012. HarperCollins [reprint], 656 pages.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow: An Autobiography by Ethel Waters with Charles Samuels. 1992. Da Capo Press, 304 pages.

Mary Lou Williams

Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams by Linda Dahl. 2012. Pantheon, 480 pages.

Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams by Tammy Kernodle. 2004. Northeastern, 348 pages.


This post contains affiliate links.