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Strange Fruit Nina Simone Version

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Uploaded on Feb 22, 2010

"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 other 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.

"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 and his wife adopted Robert and Michael, sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage and executed by the United States.

Meeropol wrote "Strange Fruit" to express his horror at lynchings, possibly 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. The song gained a certain success as a protest song in and around New York. Meeropol, his wife, and black vocalist Laura Duncan performed it at Madison Square Garden. 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. Holiday performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939. She said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation. Holiday later said that because the imagery in "Strange Fruit" reminded her of her father, she persisted in singing it. The song became a regular part of Holiday's live performances.

Holiday approached her recording label, Columbia, about recording the song. Columbia, fearing a backlash by record retailers in the South as well as possible negative reaction from affiliates of Columbia's co-owned radio network, CBS, refused to record the song. Even her great producer at Columbia, John Hammond, refused. In frustration, she turned to her friend Milt Gabler (uncle of comedian Billy Crystal), whose Commodore label produced alternative jazz. Holiday sang "Strange Fruit" for him a cappella, and the song moved Gabler so much that he wept. In 1939, Gabler worked out a special arrangement with Vocalion Records to record and distribute the song and Columbia allowed Holiday a one-session release from her contract in order to record it.

She recorded two major sessions at Commodore, one in 1939 and one in 1944. "Strange Fruit" was highly regarded. 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.

In her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, Holiday suggested that she, together with Lewis Allan, her accompanist Sonny White, and arranger Danny Mendelsohn, put the poem to music. David Margolick and Hilton Als dismissed that claim in their work, Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song. They wrote that hers was "an account that may set a record for most misinformation per column inch". When challenged, Holiday—whose autobiography had been ghostwritten by William Dufty—claimed, "I ain't never read that book. Strange Fruit Southern trees bear 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, 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.


Nina Simone's album Pastel Blues released in 1965 includes her own version of the song.Which is what you have here

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