Monday, June 21, 2021

Billy Holiday’s anti-lynching anthem, behind ‘Strange Fruit’

When Billy Holiday first performed “Strange Fruit” in 1939, the song was so bold for the time that she could sing it only in a few places where it was safe to do so.

The song has been compared to the frostbitten bodies of black people, “strange fruits hanging from poplar trees.”

The great music executive Ahmet Etegun called it “the declaration of war” and “the beginning of the civil movement”.

The song has attracted renewed attention Andra day Was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress starring for “Holiday”United States Vs Billy Holiday“The film, which debuted on Hulu in February, is a violation of Holiday in the wake of the government’s efforts to suppress” Strange Fruit. “Oscar Wind on Sunday evening.

Holiday made the song popular, leading many to believe that she was responsible for its chilling lyrics. That notion was reinforced by the 1972 film “Lady Siz the Blues”, which suggests that Holiday had played a song, played by Diana Ross.

In fact, the song was written by Abel Meropol, a white Jewish schoolboy in the Bronx.

Marine, Ind. In 1930. After seeing the lynchings photograph of Thomas Ship and Abram Smith, Mr. Meropol was moved to write it. In the photograph taken by Lawrence Beutler, the bodies of two people are seen hanging from the tree. Look at some smiling. Thousands of photos were printed and sold, According to National Public Radio.

Credit …Boston University Library

Mr. Miropol did not write the song for Holiday, using the pseudonym Lewis Allen. It was first published in 1937 as a poem in the New York Teachers Association magazine.

He was known for his communist views, and for adopting the two sons of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were hanged after being convicted on espionage charges. In 1939, Mr. Miropol’s wife Anne sang “Strange Fruit”, as did many others, before performing at Cafe Society, an integrated nightclub in New York City.

At the time, the song’s message – conveyed with lines such as, “a scene of a heroic south, raised eyes and twisted mouths” – was highly controversial.

Yet in the 21st century, “Strange Fruit” is based on the 2000 song “What’s Really Going On,” in which singer Dwayne Wiggins recounted an episode of racial profiling at the hands of police in Oakland, California.

And in 2021, as the nation continues with a series of murders of unarmed blacks by the police – often in the case of George Floyd, black people are captured in horrific footage of being shot, Engaged on “Strange Fruit” has retained its place in the national conversation about racism – by white officials.

“The song is going to be relevant until the police plead guilty to killing black people,” said Michael Meerapol, one of Abel Meeropol’s sons. Told “CBS this morning” Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was Convicted of murdering Mr. Floyd.

“When this happens, perhaps the ‘strange fruit’ will be a relic of a barbaric past,” he said. “But until then, it is a mirror on a barbaric current.”

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