Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit' speaks to us about racial violence
Rhapsody in Black Billie Holiday Strange Fruit
Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit' is an unforgettable and mesmerizing classic that speaks to racial violence and anti-lynching legislation. Teacher, songwriter and poet Abel Meropol wrote the poem Strange Fruit in 1937 after seeing a photograph of a double hanging in Indiana. Meropol attended the Café Society when Billie Holiday sang her version of Strange Fruit and said, "She gave a startling, most dramatic and effective interpretation which could jolt an audience out of its complacency anywhere. This was exactly what I wanted the song to do and why I wrote it."
Billie Holiday's 'Strange Fruit’
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body 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 magnolia, sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Host: Vernon Neal
Producer: Dan Nass
Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship
Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton
Executive Producer: Julie Amacher