This 2015 Cover Of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit Will Give You Chills (Audio)
Billie Holiday’s 1939 song “Strange Fruit” is the epitome of captivating. A poem penned two years prior by educator Abel Meeropol (as “Lewis Allan”), the song symbolizes and mourns the lynchings of Black people. In 1999, Time magazine would proclaim Holiday’s version “the song of the century.” Artistically, it is a work of beauty, rooted in violence, sadness, and pain throughout history.
It has been more than 55 years since the death of Billie Holiday. With records that have never, and will never go out of vogue (“Summertime,” “The Way You Look Tonight”), Holiday’s music permeates the ages, typically associated with love, lust, and loss. However, “Strange Fruit” will forever be relevant, for different reasons.
Even Kanye West’s “Blood On The Leaves” pulls from Billie and Abel, bringing the images, meaning, and application of the song to one of the more forward-leaning mainstream works of recent memory.
In 2015, Minneapolis, Minnesota native José James released Yesterday I Had The Blues – The Music Of Billie Holiday. Released on Universal Classics, the recently-released work was produced by Blue Note Records’ current head, Don Was. The cover of “Strange Fruit” by James reaches through the ages, and immortalizes the hurt, the tragedy, and the decades of American history that must never be forgotten.