FEATURED BLOGGER: How ‘Strange Fruit’ Killed Billie Holiday by Brandon Weber #MYDazBlog

How ‘Strange Fruit’ Killed Billie Holiday
by Brandon Weber

February 20, 2018

“Strange Fruit” may have been written by American song-writer and poet Abel Meeropol (a.k.a. Lewis Allen), but ever since Billie Holiday sang the three brief stanzas to music in 1937, she’s owned it.

Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan, said she always thought of her father when she sang “Strange Fruit.” He died at age thirty-nine after being denied medical treatment at a Texas “whites only” hospital. Because of that memory, Holiday was reluctant to perform the song, but did so anyway to tell people about the reality of life as a black man in America.

Commodore Records
“It reminds me of how Pop died,” she wrote in her autobiography. “But I have to keep singing it, not only because people ask for it, but because twenty years after Pop died, the things that killed him are still happening in the South.”

The song was so poignant for Holiday that she laid down some rules when she sang it at her gigs: She would close the evening with the song; the waiters would stop service when she began; and the room would be in total darkness except for a spotlight on her face. There would be no encore.

“Lady Day,” as Holiday was called by many at the time, began to work the song into her repertoire sixteen years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Jazz writer Leonard Feather referred to the song as “the first significant protest in words and music, the first significant cry against racism.”

The song’s lyrics were shocking to some members of Holiday’s mostly white audiences:

Video: https://youtu.be/Web007rzSOI

1486969_l458243740.jpg?w=474

Southern trees bear 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

At times, her performance of the song was met with fierce pushback. Though many people knew that lynchings of African-Americans in the South were common, there was resistance to ending the practice among Southern whites. Racism, combined with a popular desire to limit federal power over local concerns,kept people in the North from making any successful moves to end lynchings in the South.

In the end, Billie Holiday’s insistence on performing “Strange Fruit” may have been responsible for her demise.

One of the primary attempts to silence her came from a man named Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and an extreme racist, even for the 1930s. As Johann Hari details in Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, Anslinger claimed that narcotics made black people forget their place in the fabric of American society, and that jazz musicians were dangerous in particular, creating “Satanic” music under the influence of marijuana.

Holiday, who throughout her career called public attention to the devastating impact of white supremacy, was also a drug user. She drew Anslinger’s notice, and he ordered Holiday to cease performing the song. Holiday refused, and Anslinger ramped up his efforts to silence her.

After one of Anslinger’s men was paid to track Holiday and frame her with buying and using heroin, she spent eighteen months in prison. Upon her release in 1948, the federal government refused to renew her cabaret performer’s license, mandatory for any performer playing or singing at any club or bar serving alcohol.

This utterly undermined her career. Although Holiday was able to perform multiple sold-out Carnegie Hall performances over the next several years, she could no longer travel the nightclub circuit.

Unable to perform regularly at the venues she loved, and to stop remembering a childhood that included being raped at age ten, and working in a brothel with her mother, Holiday eventually began using heroin again. When she checked into a New York hospital in 1959, her liver was failing and cancerous. She was emaciated, and her heart and lungs were compromised. Despite her condition, she didn’t want to stay there. “They’re going to kill me. They’re going to kill me in there. Don’t let them,” she presciently told friends and family.

Indeed, Anslinger’s men, sensing a macabre opportunity, showed up at her hospital bedside, handcuffed her to the bed, took mugshots, removed gifts that people had brought to the room—flowers, radio, record player, chocolates, magazines—and stationed two cops at the door.

Even so, as doctors began methadone treatment, Holiday began to improve, gaining some weight and improving slowly. But then Anslinger’s men prevented hospital staff from administering any further methadone. She succumbed to death within days.

The only surviving filmed version of Holiday performing the song is from the British cabaret television show, “Chelsea At Nine,” recorded February 25, 1959 and released in March of the same year, just a few months before she died. Her voice is strong and impressive; the raw emotion simply devastating.

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Your account of Holiday’s encounter with the Cabaret Law is a little off. The Cabaret Law was a New York City law, not a national one. Different jurisdictions may have made it difficult for clubs to give Holiday engagements in the 1950s, but I’ve not heard of such. It is more likely that Holiday, who, with the song “Strange Fruit,” was identified with the political left, may have been refused engagements on those grounds. But again, I’ve not read that alleged anywhere. As for nightclub engagements outside of New York City after her prison sentence, let me refer you to the Concert Database (https://theconcertdatabase.com); this resource tracks concerts in Michigan going back into the 1920s. It is pretty comprehensive. It lists no fewer than seven separate nightclub engagements in Detroit, each a week or two long, between 1949-1958, including a 1952 Christmas Holiday-New Year’s week engagement.

Source: https://mydaz.blog/2018/11/29/how-strange-fruit-killed-billie-holiday-by-brandon-weber-february-20-2018/

How ‘Strange Fruit’ Killed Billie Holiday by Brandon Weber February 20, 2018

Video Nov 29, 2018 DAZZLED

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JUST IN: Stevie Wonder Announces Benefit Concert for California Fire Victims at Staples Center: After his an nouncement, Wonder performed a few songs including “My Cherie Amour,” ”The Christ mas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” and “Golden Lady.” Concertgoers are being asked to bring an unwrapped toy or other gift #AceNewsDesk reports

#AceNewsDesk – Nov.28: Stevie Wonder wants to raise money through his benefit concert for California fire victims impacted by the catastrophic wildfires: The R&B legend announced his plan Tuesday to also help firefighters and first responders who assisted with the fires through his 22nd annual House Full of Toys Benefit Concert on Dec. 9. The charity billed as “The Stevie Wonder Song Party: A Celebration of Life, Love & Music” will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles #AceNewsDesk reports

Concertgoers are being asked to bring an unwrapped toy or other gift: “We have to do our best to raise money for those that have been so less fortunate, for those that have lost dreams, lost their homes,” he said. “I am very happy to do this again this year but very, very, very excited to do something to help those in a bigger sense the less fortunate.”

Wonder said his foundation House Full of Hope along with the Entertainment Industry Foundation will also help raise money for those affected by the wildfire: Nearly 90 people were killed in the massive wildfires as thousands have been displaced from their homes.

After his announcement, Wonder performed a few songs including “My Cherie Amour,” ”The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” and “Golden Lady.”

Wonder also spoke on the importance of taking care of the planet: “I know we’re dealing with a drought,” he said. “There are some who don’t believe in global warming. I do. We have to protect the planet. We have to be cognizant of what we do. … I pray that all of us, even those who are non-believers, understand that if we don’t love and take care of our planet, we won’t have it.”

The lineup for this year’s charity has not been announced. Last year’s performers included Tony Bennett, Pharrell Williams and Andra Day.

Source Report: KTLA.Com/ Published: November.28:2018:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here Live Feeds https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ Ace News Services Posts https://t.me/AceSocialNews_Bot and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews all private chat messaging on here https://t.me/sharingandcaring