Billie Holiday Records Strange Fruit

August 20, 1939

Inspired by a double-lynching in Indiana in 1930, Jewish American songwriter Abel Meeropol wrote Strange Fruit and presented it to African American singer Billie Holiday, who performed it at the integrated Cafè Society in Manhattan that same year. The song, which depicts the grisly scene of black bodies hanging from trees in the South, was recorded on April 20, 1939. By July, it reached number sixteen on the sales charts. Considered to be a monumental moment in the history of musical protests against racism, the song brought the horrible reality lynching into white consciousness, and may have been a catalyst for the civil rights movement


Margolick, David. Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil
Rights. Philadelphia and London, Running P, 2000.

Billie Holiday Singing. Public Radio Tulsa,