Billie Holiday Sings “Strange Fruit”

Before the week­end slips away, we want to remem­ber Bil­lie Hol­i­day who was born 98 years ago today. To this day, Hol­i­day is wide­ly con­sid­ered the great­est jazz vocal­ist of all time, known for her dis­tinc­tive phras­ing and melan­choly voice. Above, we bring you her per­for­mance of “Strange Fruit,” a song record­ed in 1939 that protest­ed the lynch­ing of African Amer­i­cans in the South. The com­po­si­tion intro­duced Hol­i­day to a main­stream audi­ence, giv­ing her career a big break. Down the line, Hol­i­day closed every con­cert with the song, which con­tin­u­al­ly grew in cul­tur­al impor­tance. By 1999, TIME called “Strange Fruit” the song of the cen­tu­ry, solid­i­fy­ing its place in the Amer­i­can song­book.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.