Andra Day is a singer/songwriter who recently grabbed the world’s attention with her incredible portrayal of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in the Hulu film The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Since she’s proven that she is a star to watch, many have been interested to know everything about Day, including what her real name is.
Andra Day’s real name
Though it might seem like Andra Day is the singer’s real moniker, it turns out that it’s a stage name she gave herself early on in her singing career.
Day’s real name is actually Cassandra Monique Batie. She was born on December 30, 1984, in Edmonds, Washington, and grew up in Southeast San Diego, California, with her family.
As a young child, Day was an avid dancer, having studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and even river dance. However, at the age of 12, Day discovered her love of music after being introduced to the sounds of jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Billie Holiday.
Billie Holiday inspired Andra Day’s stage name
Day’s admiration for Holiday, in particular, was the driving force of her becoming a singer. Upon her listening to Holiday’s song “Sugar” at 11 years old, Day was instantly hooked.
“Her voice sounds nothing like Whitney. What is this?” Day told Deadline about listening to Holiday’s music for the first time. “All I knew was that whatever I was listening to was extremely powerful and I could hear the sacrifice. I was like, ‘Wow, she’s giving up something.’ It wasn’t until I was about 18 when I started to dive into who she is.”
Holiday’s voice and music left such a lasting impression on Day that she decided to pay tribute to the iconic singer with her stage name.
In a March 2021 interview with PBS NewsHour, the singer said that the “Day” in her name comes from Holiday’s nickname “Lady Day.”
“She was hugely influential. She’s kind of my namesake. That’s where I get the Day in Andra Day. It comes from the relationship between her and saxophonist Lester Young,” the “Rise Up” singer explained. “He gave her the nickname “Lady Day,” and she gave him the nickname “The President,” or “Pres” for short, and her mother, the nickname “The Duchess.”
Day continued, “And so, I love how Billie describes them as “the Royal family.” It just felt very regal because she is sort of the queen to me when it comes to music, and obviously, when it comes to jazz, and when it comes to the greater conversation, as we’re seeing, [with] civil rights as well.”
Andra Day stars as Billie Holiday in The United States Vs. Billie Holiday
If taking on Holiday’s nickname wasn’t already a huge honor, starring in a movie about the singer was a full-circle moment for Day.
Earlier this year, Day starred in the Lee Daniels-directed Hulu film The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, in which she played the ground-breaking singer. The film recounts Holiday’s impactful song “Strange Fruit,” which played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement. It also shines a light on some of the singer’s hardships, including her struggles with addiction and legal woes.
Day’s outstanding performance in the film earned her countless praise and even a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.
As she continues to receive recognition for her portrayal, it’s clear that Day paid homage to Holiday in an even bigger way than she initially planned!
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