Q

Strange Fruit: A brief history of Billie Holiday's tragic and haunting song

One of the most powerful protest songs of all time turns 80 years old this month. We explore the importance of Strange Fruit with the help of Miami University musicologist Dr. Tammy Kernodle.

This month marks the 80th anniversary of Billie Holiday's recording of the song

Portrait of Billie Holiday, Downbeat, New York, N.Y., ca. Feb. 1947. (William P. Gottlieb Collection)
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Originally published on April 25, 2019

One of the most powerful protest songs of all time turns 80 years old this month. Strange Fruit began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol and was later introduced to jazz singer Billie Holiday, who recorded her version in April of 1939.

The tragic and haunting song is about lynching and racist violence in the U.S., and its lyrics are graphic, unapologetic and stark.

We explore the history and importance of this song with the help of Dr. Tammy Kernodle, a professor of musicology at Miami University in Ohio.

Produced by Ben Edwards

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