We’ve reported before on how the incoming Trump administration is struggling to find talent to perform at his inaugural celebrations. But English songstress Rebecca Ferguson is willing to take a place on this historical stage. She just has one condition.
Yesterday, Ferguson tweeted regarding the Inauguration ceremony:
I’ve been asked and this is my answer. 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. 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. Best Rebecca X
Performing such a song in such a venue would send a strong message. But it’s one some—including Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes—seem to be missing.
@RebeccaFMusic Please don’t normalize the hatred, bigotry and racism his campaign was built on. You send a greater message by refusing.— Darren Hayes (@darrenhayes) January 3, 2017
“Strange Fruit” might be best known as a protest song, performed by Nina Simone in the 1960s to advocate for the Civil Rights movement. But it began as a poem, penned by Abel Meeropol in 1937 to protest lynchings. He set it to music. And two years later, Billie Holiday and her tender voice made this a song that played like a prayer. For decades, “Strange Fruit” has cried out the plight of African-Americans living under racist oppression in the United States. To perform this song on such a world stage would put Ferguson firmly in a place of protest against the bigotry that vocal Trump stumpers have rallied behind through the course of his campaign and election.
Below, listen to Simone discuss what “Strange Fruit” meant to her, and hear her heart-wrenching rendition. Warning: graphic images of lynching are included in the accompanying video.
Here are the lyrics of “Strange Fruit.”
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
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop
All this to say, there’s no chance in hell Trump’s team will take Ferguson up on her offer. But they can’t stop her from delivering this, one hell of a mic drop.