Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights

David Margolick

Language: English

Pages: 144

ISBN: B00007MF5D

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

En 1939, quand Billie Holiday interprète pour la première fois Strange Fruit, elle n’a que 24 ans et déjà un nom dans le milieu du jazz.Des arbres du Sud portent un fruit étrange,Du sang sur les feuilles et du sang aux racines,Un corps noir oscillant à la brise du Sud,Fruit étrange pendu dans les peupliers





















condescension. Indeed, his disapproval may have prompted her to perform the song. “Aw, John's square, John's just rich, John wants to run my life, tries to tell me and everybody else what to do,” she once said. (Hammond was also responsible for spreading some misinformation about the song, for example, that Holiday had originally learned it from Josh White.) Norman Granz, who included Holiday in his famous “Jazz at the Philharmonic”series in the 1940s and recorded her last great work on Mercury

London, a British reviewer called the song “a challenge to humanity which cannot leave any right-thinking man or woman unaffected.” The Chicago Defender reported:“They would not let her go until she shook the rafters of this Royal edifice . . . with her soul-disturbing, dramatic rendition of ‘Strange Fruit.’ The crowd hung on to her every syllable, to every nuance of Billie's indescribably moving voice.” But the politics of “Strange Fruit” sometimes eluded foreign audiences. At the Concertgebouw

on the radio (where it was played occasionally and hesitantly by black or “nigger-loving” white disc jockeys) or got to see it performed by Holiday or someone else, those who've encountered “Strange Fruit” have found the song engraved into their consciousness. Though they may not have heard it for years, many can still recite the lyrics by heart. “Outside of knowing all of the words to ‘America the Beautiful,’” a retired English professor and writer named Feenie Ziner remembered, “I don't know

to Siouxsie and the Banshees—have recorded “Strange Fruit,” each cut an act of courage given Holiday's continuing hold over the song. (That might not apply to 101 Strings, which recorded an orchestral version.) Sidney Bechet did an instrumental version shortly after Holiday's own record appeared; though it contained no words, Victor chose not to release it for many years. The song now pops up in many places. Leon Litwack, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the Civil War and Reconstruction

typical. “I would like to sing a new song which I have been rehearsing all day; it's called ‘Strange Fruit.’ I want to see what you all think of it,” she told her listeners, a young salesman named Charles Gilmore among them. Up to that moment, Gilmore recalled, the party had been a raucous affair. But as Holiday sang and the lyrics sank in, the crowd grew still; the apartment became a cathedral, the party, a funeral. “That was all she sang; nobody asked her to sing anything else,” he said. “There

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