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Strange Fruit

Billie Holiday

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Jazz poetry


Billie Holiday sings her somber hit "Strange Fruit" in the 1950s.

"Strange Fruit" began as a poem written by high school teacher Abel Meeropol in reference to the lynching of two black men in Indianan captured in a photograph by Lawrence Beitler.

Abel published it under the pen name Lewis Allan in 1936.

Meeropol, his wife, and two sons were later convicted of espionage by the United States and executed.

After it's publication the poem attracted the attention of Barney Josephson, the founder of Greenwich Village's Cafe Society, New York's first integrated nightclub.

Josephson introduced the song to Billie Holiday and she would subsequently perform it at his club in beginning in 1939. It soon became a regular feature of her live shows.

The song became a regular part of Billie's live performances and she was emotionally overcome every time she sang it.

Recorded during two of her major sessions at Commodore, one in 1939, the other in 1944 "Strange Fruit" became her best seller.

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