Fifty-two years ago, award-winning vocalist/pianist Nina Simone forever cemented that stirring feeling of “Strange Fruit” when she performed it as part of the soundtrack to the Civil Rights Movement. Now, powerhouse singer Rebecca Ferguson seeks to revive the song on the nation’s largest stage.
According to Billboard, the former X Factor UK contestant was asked to perform at this month’s presidential inauguration (Jan. 20). But the only way she’ll take centerstage is if she can perform the Abel Meeropol written song. In a statement published to Ferguson’s Twitter account, she explained her understandable reasoning.
“If you allow me to sing “strange fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial,” she writes. “A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington.”
— Rebecca Ferguson (@RebeccaFMusic) January 2, 2017
In 1939, Billie Holiday crooned the tune that would stand the test of time at Cafe Society. The melody heartbreakingly and poignantly depicted black people’s experience with the horrors of racism. “Strange Fruit” also found a rightful place in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978. Now, that same song might find a new place in history in 2017.