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My Creative Hero: Billie Holiday



Sarah Taylor, client partner at futurefactor reflects on the first sounds of 'The Very Thought of You' and the power of words and story

My Creative Hero: Billie Holiday

futurefactor client partner Sarah Taylor knows the importance of well crafted words. The experience and sense of self to come from Billie Holiday's music played a crucial part in her creative path. Here, Sarah explains why. 

Before I begin, I have a confession to make. I started writing this about my mum. Her approach to everything in life is rooted in absolute creativity. She sees possibilities in everything and is unrestrained by the limits of conformity. I could think of nobody better.

And now I have an apology to make. To my mum. While she has provided me with a creative outlook on life, when it comes to my specific creative outlet - that of writing - my eyes were opened to the potential power of words by one person in particular. Sorry mum!

Who would you say is your creative hero?

Sarah> Billie Holiday, for giving power to other people’s words.


How long has this person been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting them or coming across their work?

Sarah> It was 1992 when I went to the cinema to watch Forever Young with my sister. While my memory of the film itself is sketchy (Mel Gibson was frozen then brought back to life by a young Frodo) I remember exactly how I felt hearing The Very Thought of You for the first time. Up until then, if I’m honest, I hadn’t thought too much about music having meaning beyond being lucky or having a toyboy.


If it’s someone you personally know, how did you get to know them and how has your relationship evolved over the years? If you don’t know this person, how did you go about finding to learn more about them and their work?

Sarah> As we didn’t have access to the World Wide Web back then, I attempted to identify the singer by giving a pretty awful rendition of the song to my mum (I should apologise for that, too). Somehow she recognised it and off I went to the library, returning soon after with Travelin’ Light and The Best of Lady Day. I listened to those albums over and over, religiously scribing the lyrics into what became my teenage bible. 


Why is the person such an inspiration to you?

Sarah> Well crafted words have the power to tell a story and the delivery of those words can transport an audience. My life experiences couldn’t have been further from hers but she opened my eleven-year-old eyes to a history I’d never considered and a privilege I didn’t realise I had. When I found out that she’d actually written very little of her own material I wasn’t disappointed. If anything, it gave me a deeper appreciation of her ability to tell stories that weren’t directly hers. 


How does this person influence you in your approach to your creative work?

Sarah> I’ve done my fair share of ghostwriting over the years and I consider it a huge privilege to be trusted with someone’s thoughts and to bring them to life on paper. You’re not just writing about someone’s experiences, you’re adopting their tone of voice and, in doing so, have access to their deep rooted sense of self. While Billie doesn’t influence my direct approach, she’s influenced my appreciation of storytelling in a way that I hope gives me the ability to do justice to other people’s perspectives.

What piece or pieces of this person’s work do you keep coming back to and why?

Sarah> I don’t think there’s any one piece I keep coming back to as it’s quite mood dependent. I’ll always have a soft spot for The Very Thought of You though.

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futurefactor, Tue, 02 Jun 2020 14:33:43 GMT