Kira: Identifying a favorite record is obviously complicated. My idea about our taste in music is that it is strongly influenced by when you were introduced to it. That certain times in our lives are key in terms of when music can touch us in that special way. The early teens were such a time for me, spending all night some nights during junior high listening to David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. I still know most of the lyrics to those albums even though it is tricky to remember my lunch from yesterday.
But if I must, and for the purposes of this article I must, it would be Music for Torching by Billie Holiday. I was introduced to this record during junior high as well, a friend had a cassette that I played over and over. I know, Billie didn’t write the songs, and maybe you think it should be some amazing songwriter that rocks my world … but I can listen to any of these songs and tears will be rolling down my cheeks and every crush I ever had holds a place in my heart at the same time. The only song I have ever sung a capella in front of anyone was “I Don’t Want to Cry Anymore.” I know all the words to these songs. Billie’s voice is not at its best on this record and that might be one of the things I love the most. I love the way she varied every song each time she sang it and adapted to her changing voice over the years. And maybe I don’t feel as insecure as a vocalist when I hear the emotion she can pour through her throat as it is, having been through the wringer.
I own every Billie Holiday recording that I have been able to get my hands on. I have seen the movies and documentaries. I have watched with interest the way she manipulates her mouth as she sings.
Billie did what I aspire to do with my music — feel it completely and because she did that I get to feel it every time I listen.
Kira Holds a Torch for Billie Holiday: The album Kira will be released October 19 via Kitten Robot Records.