In 1939, blues singer Billie Holiday famously sang and recorded “Strange Fruit” which was first written by Jewish American teacher Abel Meeropol as a published poem in 1937. The recording protested the nature of American racism, and in particular the widespread practice of lynching African Americans largely throughout the U.S south. According to the Tuskegee Institute, by the early 20thcentury, there had been 1,953 Americans murdered by lynching, about three quarters of which identified as African American. The lyrics of “Strange Fruit” are considered an example of extended metaphor. While Holiday popularized the protest song, Meeropol had originally set the song to music and performed it with his wife, singer Laura Duncan, who often performed it throughout New York City venues in the 1930s, and even in venues such as Madison Square Garden.
In this assignment you will be expected to first watch a live recording of “Strange Fruit” as it was performed by Billie Holiday. You can find the video here: https://vimeo.com/124278443
You will then be expected to write a video reflection responding to the following question:
Q: Please explain what is meant by the lyrics performed in “Strange Fruit,” and what the artist likely meant to convey (in terms of the message) by using the technique of extended metaphor (meaning, what do you think they meant by the reference to ‘strange fruit’).