Billie Holiday

“On this day in 1959, Billie Holiday died in a New York City hospital from cirrhosis of the liver after years of alcohol abuse, aged 43, (while under arrest for heroin possession, with police officers stationed at the door to her room.) In the final years of her life, she had been progressively swindled out of her earnings. The singer who had recorded classics such as ‘God Bless the Child’ and the civil rights anthem ‘Strange Fruit’ died with just $0.70 in the bank. ” (courtesy of This Day in Music). The circumstances of her death are especially relevant during the challenging times of 2020. Imagine the courage to sing this incredible song, “Strange Fruit.” Take some time to read about her life and the impact this song had on her career.

Strange Fruit: Lyrics

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies 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 a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

Written by Abel Meeropol


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