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Billie Holiday
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Strange Fruit

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Strange Fruit

  1. 1. Strange Fruit Billie Holiday <ul><li>Strange Fruit is a song famously sung by Billie Holiday, first recorded by Holiday in 1939. </li></ul><ul><li>Billie Holiday was a famous blues singer, dying in 1959. </li></ul>
  2. 2. Themes and Historical Background <ul><li>Strange Fruit is a powerful protest against racism. </li></ul><ul><li>In America until 1965 racism was something sanctioned by law. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Themes and Historical Background <ul><li>In the southern states of the U.S, racist laws known as the Jim Crow laws, stipulated the separation of blacks from whites and made racial discrimination legal. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Examples of discrimination against African-Americans in the U.S <ul><li>Interracial Marriage Illegal </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;All marriages between a white person and a Negro, or between a white person and a person of Negro descent to the fourth generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited – Florida </li></ul><ul><li>Interracial Restaurants Illegal </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;All persons licensed to conduct a restaurant, shall serve either white people exclusively or coloured people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room or serve the two races anywhere under the same license.“ – Georgia </li></ul><ul><li>Interracial Schools Illegal </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Separate rooms [shall] be provided for the teaching of pupils of African descent, and [when] said rooms are so provided, such pupils may not be admitted to the school rooms occupied and used by pupils of Caucasian or other descent.&quot; – New Mexico </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Exchanging Textbooks between Races Illegal </li></ul><ul><li>Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and coloured schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them. “ – North Carolina </li></ul><ul><li>White Sports Teams Playing near Black Teams Illegal </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race”. – Georgia </li></ul><ul><li>Interracial Train Waiting Rooms and Platforms Illegal </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and coloured races.&quot; - Alabama </li></ul>
  6. 11. Themes and Historical Background <ul><li>Not only were African-Americans discriminated against through the laws, but they were denied the protection of the law. </li></ul><ul><li>If an African American was thought to have committed an “offence” by whites, they were always at risk of being lynched by a white mob. </li></ul>
  7. 12. The picture that inspired Strange Fruit
  8. 13. Themes and Historical Background <ul><li>After seeing this picture, Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, wrote Strange Fruit about the lynching of two black men. </li></ul><ul><li>Tragically scenes such as these were all too common until the late 1940s. </li></ul><ul><li>Billie Holiday was the first singer to sing this song in public. </li></ul>
  9. 16. Themes and Historical Background <ul><li>Strange Fruit is an incredibly important protest song. </li></ul><ul><li>Billie Holiday was famous as a blues singer and she ended all her performances with it. </li></ul><ul><li>First few times she sang it , she was afraid of white reprisals and violence, so controversial was the song. </li></ul>
  10. 17. Lyrics <ul><li>Strange Fruit deliberately sets out to shock its audience. </li></ul><ul><li>As people living in the 30s and 40s many amongst Holiday’s audience would have been well aware of the evils of lynching. </li></ul><ul><li>However, one can have an awareness of a moral wrong on an intellectual level, without being wholly emotionally or passionately engaged. Listening to Strange Fruit song is literally like being kicked in the guts. </li></ul>
  11. 18. Lyrics <ul><li>The subject matter extremely confronting and distressing. </li></ul><ul><li>Meeropol’s words does not attempt to whitewash the horror of lynching – instead it asks its listener to confront it. </li></ul><ul><li>Holiday’s heartfelt rendition of the song makes it even more effective. </li></ul>
  12. 19. Lyrics <ul><li>Strange Fruit does not shirk from its subject in any of its lines or the images it creates. </li></ul><ul><li>Strange Fruit’s power is through is physical imagery and powerful metaphors. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Southern trees bear strange fruit”. </li></ul>
  13. 20. Lyrics <ul><li>The lyrics emphasise the obscenity of the violence African-Americans were subjected to in referring to “ the bulging eyes and twisted mouth ” – a haunting image of a hanged person. </li></ul><ul><li>Meeropol’s words also refer to the hypocrisy of the south. The southern states preceded themselves on “southern hospitality” and “genteel living”. This is evident in the reference to the reference to the “scent of magnolias” which is directly contrasts with the “sudden smell of burning flesh:” </li></ul><ul><li>These images are contradictory, jarring and unfortunately very true. </li></ul><ul><li>The rhyming of the last verse is extremely visceral it its gruesome imagery – “ pluck ”, “ suck ”, “ rot ”, “ drop ” and “ crop ”. </li></ul>
  14. 21. Melody <ul><li>Strange Fruit has a sombre and melancholy tone. </li></ul><ul><li>The accompanying music is very understated, or subtle – it is the lyrics one is meant to listen to. Strange Fruit does not have to rely upon a driving melody or tune as it is the utter horror of it’s lyrics that captures the listener's attention. </li></ul>
  15. 22. Melody <ul><li>In the last verse, the music, which has so far been very low key and subtle, acts to create the song’s drama and emotional effect. </li></ul><ul><li>Holiday’s voice is raw and anguished and the accompanying music rises in an emotional climax to the song, especially as she sings the words, “a strange and bitter crop”. </li></ul>
  16. 23. Strange Fruit <ul><li>Strange Fruit is a very early anti-racist song and an excellent example of music’s power to move us emotionally on an issue. </li></ul>
  • elainecole940

    Jun. 25, 2018
  • wizardkellyjr

    Jan. 20, 2014


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