A new biopic depicting the life and career of legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday is coming soon to Hulu. Directed and produced by Academy Award-nominee Lee Daniels (Precious, Monster’s Ball) and starring the Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and actress Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday is set to premiere February 26.
Featuring a script by the Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter Suzan-Lori Parks, The United States vs. Billie Holiday is described in a press release as an “intimate tale of a fierce trailblazer whose defiance through music helped usher in the civil rights movement.”
The trailer focuses particularly on Holiday’s heart-wrenching song, “Strange Fruit.” The haunting song, which details the terrors of racism in the south, was particularly controversial when Holiday recorded it in 1939. Holiday’s regular performances of the song, along with her drug use, made her a target of the federal government in the 40s and early 50s.
The film also stars Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Miss Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross, Tyler James Williams, Tone Bell, and Erik LaRay Harvey.
“Whether you are new to the story and legacy of Billie Holiday or know every note she ever sang, I do hope our celebration of this complex woman does justice to a great musical legend and civil rights activist whose artistry resonates as well today, as it did 80 years ago,” said Daniels in a statement. “Hulu releasing this film and giving it a platform to be seen nationwide is a blessing, because as recent events reveal, our country has much work to do in fulfilling its promise of a more perfect union.”
Holiday’s life was previously chronicled in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. The biopic, produced by Motown Productions, starred Diana Ross as Holiday and was loosely based on the artist’s 1956 autobiography of the same name.
Fans looking for a deeper dive into the life of Holiday can also check out the recently-released documentary, Billie. The film explores the singer through a trove of previously-unreleased interviews with fellow artists, friends, family, lawyers, and more. An accompanying soundtrack, meanwhile, collects some of Holiday’s most popular songs featured throughout the transfixing film including “God Bless The Child,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “I Loves You, Porgy,” and “Strange Fruit.”
Click here to listen to Billie: The Original Soundtrack.