BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– The West Baton Rouge Museum (WBRM) is opening a new Billie Holiday exhibit with ‘One Night with Billie and Ella’ for this month’s Historical Happy Hour on Friday.

The exhibit, ‘Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic,’ takes an intimate look at the private and public life of Billie Holiday in April 1957. “Unlike the divas of today or the female stars of today, singers of today, she didn’t have an entourage of people to do her hair, to do her makeup, or to do her wardrobe. So I think about that as I look at these images of her that, my goodness, she had the maybe iron home gown, you know, put on her makeup, do her hair before she went to stage in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people,” said CEO of 2PERSERVE and former WBRM Curator Kathe Hambrick. 

Throughout the museum, you will find photographs of Holliday singing, walking down the street, meeting fans, or getting dressed for her shows. “You can kind of see the passion in her eyes […] you can almost see the words coming out of her mouth in a song through the photography,” said Hambrick.

‘Billie Holiday at Sugar Hill: Photographs by Jerry Dantzic’ is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Jerry Dantzic Archives. The exhibit will retire after it leaves the West Baton Rouge Museum in January 2023.

To celebrate the opening of the Billie Holiday exhibit, this month’s Historical Happy Hour features performances by a traveling show from the National WWII Museum’s BB’s Stage Door Canteen. Kathleen Moore and Chloé Marie Johnson perform classics as Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald, backed by a live band. Following a curator-led exhibit tour, an audience discussion will focus on how the performers researched and prepared for their roles.

Historical Happy Hour is free and lasts from 6–8 p.m. on Friday, September 16. You can still see the exhibit during regular hours if you miss the event. Tickets are less than $3 per person or free to West Baton Rouge citizens with valid ID. 

The museum’s next big event is the annual Sugar Fest on October 2 from 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

For more information, visit the museum’s website here.