Billie Holiday began performing in Washington near the beginning of her career. In 1937 she appeared at the Howard Theatre as vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra, returning for weeklong engagements as headliner in 1940 and 1941. She also performed at the Lincoln Theater near 12th and U Streets NW.

After her 1947 prison term for narcotics made it impossible for her to appear at Manhattan nightclubs, Billie began grueling years of incessant touring. In Washington she played Club Bali in 1948 and its sucessor, Cafe Trinidad, in 1954 (Left and Below). She also appeared at Bohemian Caverns at 11th and U Streets NW during the 1950s. (Top)

Billie also appeared regularly at two clubs far from the U Street entertainment corridor.

Olivia Davis' Patio Lounge at 713 13th Street NW was a frequent stop for touring jazz musicians in the mid-1950s. Today the Patio Lounge is memorialized by the 5 CD set "Lester in Washington", extracted from a week-long Lester Young engagement in 1956. Several recordings from an October, 1956 Billie Holiday broadcast from the Patio Lounge have also appeared on CD. These feature Billie backed by a trio which probably includes her long-time accompanist Carl Drinkard on piano.

In the 1950s, every big city had its "Brown Derby". The Washington version was uptown at 3333A Connecticut Avenue NW (Left). Despite its isolation from downtown nightlife, the Brown Derby presented Billie Holiday several times and attracted other top acts into the 1960s.

Although the old-time DC nightclub scene had faded away by the Nixon era, most places where Billie Holiday performed can be visited today. The Lincoln Theatre was renovated with public funds in the 1990s and still hosts jazz events today. Unfortunately the Howard Theatre, renovated in the 1980s, failed to build an audience and today stands shuttered at the intersection of 7th Street, T Street, and Florida Avenue NW. In 2007, DC Government announced plans for a private developer to rehabilitate the Howard as a supper club and performance space and restore its facade to its original 1910 appearance. This would differ substantially from the current art deco-accented stucco facade, a just pre-World War II facelift.

After the 1968 riot drove away a significant portion of its customer base, Bohemian Caverns closed for almost 30 years. Today, with the revival of U Street NW, it is again a functioning nightclub presenting live music. Billie Holiday's portrait is displayed in the window enclosure just to the left of the traffic light. The Brown Derby is a restaurant, while the Cafe Trinidad is a theatrical performance space. Only the Patio Lounge, which closed in 1978, has been demolished.

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