NOT Billie Holiday, Clora Bryant or Valaida Snow

This photo can be found all over the internet claiming to show Billie Holiday, Clora bryant or Valaida Snow.

It does not.

For starters, Billie Holiday, one of the best singers ever, was born in 1915.
Valaida Snow, amazing musician, was born in 1904.
You don’t have to be an expert to see that this photo was taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
That would mean that both Billie Holiday and Valaida Snow would have been at least in their 40s.
Clora Bryant would have been in her 30s.
This woman looks younger than that.

The photo was taken by William Claxton, a famous photographer especially well known for taking pictures in the 1960s.

By 1960, when this photo was taken both Billie Holiday and Valaida Snow had already died, Clora Bryant was 33.

So if you know anything about these women and a little bit about history, this photo should at least make you look twice before blindly sharing it around.

This photo shows Yourna DeSilva, then future partner of Hardbop trumpeter Donald Byrd, although some sources claim it was his then wife Lorraine Glover.

The picture was first published in Claxton’s book called “Jazz seen” with the caption;
“Mrs. Donald Byrd, 48th Street, New York City, 1960”.

Donald Byrd at the time was married to Lorraine nee Glover but was already dating Yourna DeSilva.
Mr. Byrd dedicated a song to Yourna but when he died Lorraine was mentioned in the obituary as his wife.

To try and confirm the woman’s identity I researched the photographer and discovered that on that day other photos were taken as well;

Rolf Kühn, Donald Byrd playing trumpet, and Mrs. Donald Byrd on the A Train in New York City, 1960. Photographed by William Claxton, as reprinted in Exposure magazine, December 1989.
(source)
On A Train, Donald Byrd, Rolf Kühn and Mrs. Donald Byrd
New York City 1960
Great detail; Yourna is holding the same bag as in the street photo.

I tracked down Mr. Kühn but unfortunately he didn’t remember if she was Donald’s first or second wife.
But then thanks to a reddit discussion a photo was found of Donald & Yourna today:

Yourna on the far left, Donald second from the right.

I think it’s a match.

Bonus information; she is standing outside the Ponte Music Company, an instrument repair shop.
Located outside 118 W. 48Th Street, behind her is 6th avenue.

Thanks to Saskia Steinhorst who found some essential clues.

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Disclaimer;
Picture(s) found online, used for (re-)educational purposes only.
I do not own the copyrights to these images, I only share them here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.
If the copyright owner objects to the sharing here, kindly contact me and I shall alter the article.
If you’re interested in using any of the images here get in touch with the copyright owners mentioned in the article.
Feel free to contact me with questions.


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