Original signed contract 11 x 8 ½" (28 x 21.5 cm.) between Billie Holiday and band leader Buster Harding, Los Angeles, USA. Original contract agreement between Billie Holiday and band leader Buster Harding engaging Harding for three weeks at the New Club Alabam in Los Angeles. SIGNED by both Holiday and Harding in blue ink.
The American Federation of Musicians contract stipulates that Harding is to perform with Holiday at the New Club Alabam for three weeks beginning on May 6th, 1952, for six days a week, with Mondays off. In exchange for six nights of performances a week he is to be compensated $125.00, which is to be paid at the end of each week. By this time Harding already had a close, long standing relationship with Holiday, having arranged a number of pieces for her, been the musical director for her 1949 recording sessions, and playing frequently with her through 1956. Holiday said of him, "Buster not only plays for me, writes for me -- he feels the way I feel."
Club Alabam and its neighbor the Dunbar Hotel represented the epicenter of African-American culture in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 1940s, until African-Americans began to win legal battles over segregation in the mid-1950s. Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, and many others performed at the club.
Tragically, after her 1947 bust for possession of narcotics, she was no longer allowed to perform at New York City night clubs -- but her lack of a New York cabaret license did not prevent her from coming west and singing in California.
Noteworthy in that Holiday is specifically listed as the "employer", having garnered such immense popularity at this point in her career as to hire her own chosen accompaniment.
Holiday's autograph is a very uncommon one, and her signature here is bold and sharp. She was only scheduled to receive a weekly stipend of $125 for this engagement. One cannot help but think that she was being drastically underpaid, even by the standards of the early-1950s.
Folded once, ABOUT FINE.