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Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit"
by The Ovi Team
2017-04-20 09:04:00
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"Strange Fruit" is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday. It condemned American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans that had occurred chiefly in the South but also in all regions of the United States. Holiday's version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

thomasshippabramsmith_400"Strange Fruit" began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, about the lynching of two black men. He published under the pen name Lewis Allan. Meeropol wrote "Strange Fruit" to express his horror at lynchings after seeing Lawrence Beitler's photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem in 1936 in The New York Teacher, a union magazine. Though Meeropol/Allan had often asked others (notably Earl Robinson) to set his poems to music, he set Strange Fruit to music himself.

Barney Josephson, the founder of Cafe Society in Greenwich Village, New York's first integrated nightclub, heard the song and introduced it to Billie Holiday. In time it became Holiday's biggest selling record. Though the song became a staple of her live performances, Holiday's accompanist Bobby Tucker recalled that Holiday would break down every time after she sang it.

Click here to watch Billie Holiday perform "Strange Fruit"

* * * *

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.


   
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Leah Sellers2013-04-21 06:36:40
The Violence inherent within Racism, Sexism and Classism has always been, and will Forever Be Strange and Bitter Fruit. Until We, the FruitMakers and FruitBearers Choose to completely UpRoot and Extinguish Their rank and Chaotic Devouring Evils and squirming Tendrils of Individual and Societal Desecrations and Deviations from the Minds, Hearts, Bodies and Souls of All Human Beings.
The very Song which revealed the very Societal Evils effecting/affecting her own Life on many levels became her own Soul's simultaneous Revelation and Devastation.
What Courage she had. Every time she Sang this Song she used the Energetic Power of Music and Storytelling to Walk into the very Fires she (and a multitude of Others) sought refuge from within her (their) own World.


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