Before spiraling into addiction, iconic singer Billie Holiday commanded her band with a pair of wedge stomping shoes.
“She always wore wedged heels when she would sing because she could stomp out the beat for the band,” Audra McDonald told Footwear News at the Screen Actors Guild Awards today in Los Angeles.
The Broadway star was authentic to Holiday’s iconic style in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” She scored a SAG nomination for her performance in the stage show’s HBO special that aired in March. For the SAG Awards, McDonald opted for a pair of heels by Schutz.
“I studied everything about her,” McDonald added. “She was very obsessed with fashion — when she had her mental acuity she looked the best she could.”
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Holiday was troubled by drug and alcohol addiction throughout her career, which was at its height in the ’30s and ‘40s, and eventually her voice declined, along with her health. She died at age 44 in 1959 of complications from cirrhosis of the liver.
McDonald, who won a 2014 Tony for her turn in the stage production, did her research.
“I studied the kind of perfume she wore, which was tweed,” McDonald explained. In the performance, she added, “I have wedge heels on and wore tweed perfume as well. It was a nod to her fashion.”