View this film about Billie Holiday as a completely fictional story, and you'll enjoy it far more than you would otherwise. Ostensibly based on Holiday's autobiography, LADY SINGS THE BLUES begins in the early 1930s in Baltimore, where the teenaged Billie (Diana Ross) is raped and then sent
to New York to stay with a friend of her mother's. In Harlem she works first as a maid, and later as a whore, in a brothel. With the encouragement of the brothel's "piano man" (Richard Pryor), she begins singing professionally and eventually becomes the lover of gambler Louis McKay (Billy Dee
Williams)--actually Holiday's third husband but the sole romantic interest in the film....