3 Harlem jazz spots where Billie Holiday once sang—that are still around today

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

A plaque honoring Billie Holiday outside of Bill's Place in Harlem

A new Billie Holiday biopic hits the small screen this week—"The United States vs. Billie Holiday" is out on Hulu on Friday, February 26—prompting TCU to consider the legendary singer's longstanding connections to Harlem.

Holiday didn't just get her start uptown (she moved to Harlem as a teenager, launching her career soon after), but sang at many of its jazz joints throughout her life. Amazingly, three of them still exist, although two are temporarily closed due to safety reasons related to Covid-19.

Bookmark this post and plan your visits post-pandemic. From south to north, they are:

Minton's Playhouse

206 W 118th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and St. Nicholas Ave

Open with Covid-19 protocols

Founded by saxophonist Henry Minton in 1938, this birthplace of bebop includes Holiday in its roster of jazz greats that performed on its small stage.

Apollo Theater

253 W 125th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Blvds

Programming is currently digital-only

Holiday made her debut at the legendary Harlem venue in the 1930s at the age of 19. She went on to appear here nearly 30 times.

Bill's Place

148 W 133rd St between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvds

Temporarily closed

Now known as the jazz club Bill's Place, this address was once home to a speakeasy where, according to legend, record producer John Hammond first heard Holiday when she was 17.

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