On 20 April , the jazz singer Billie Holiday born Eleanora Fagan in stepped into a studio with an eight-piece band to record Strange Fruit. Originally a poem called Bitter Fruit, it was written by the Jewish school teacher Abel Meeropol under the pseudonym Lewis Allen in response to lynching in US southern states. Soon after publication, Meeropol set the song to music. It was performed at union meetings and even at Madison Square Garden by the jazz singer Laura Duncan. To ensure that it was indeed savoured, Holiday and Josephson created specific conditions for the performances. Then a lone person began to clap nervously. As the song became a feature of her sets, Holiday witnessed a range of reactions, from tears to walkouts and racist hecklers. When she toured the song, some proprietors tried discouraging her from singing it for fear of alienating or angering their patrons.
"Strange Fruit" was originally a poem
It protests the lynching of Black Americans , with lyrics that compare the victims to the fruit of trees. Such lynchings had reached a peak in the Southern United States at the turn of the 20th century, and the great majority of victims were black. Meeropol set his lyrics to music with his wife and singer Laura Duncan and performed it as a protest song in New York City venues in the late s, including Madison Square Garden. Diana Ross recorded the song for her debut film, the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Sings the Blues , and it was included on the chart topping soundtrack album. Holiday's version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in First performed by Meeropol's wife and their friends in social contexts,  his protest song gained a certain success in and around New York. The lyrics are under copyright but have been republished in full in an academic journal, with permission. She said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation but, because its imagery reminded her of her father, she continued to sing the piece, making it a regular part of her live performances.
The song reminded Holiday of her father
I t is a clear, fresh New York night in March You're on a date and you've decided to investigate a new club in a former speakeasy on West 4th Street: Cafe Society, which calls itself "The Wrong Place for the Right People". Even if you don't get the gag on the way in — the doormen wear tattered clothes — then the penny drops when you enter the L-shaped, capacity basement and see the satirical murals spoofing Manhattan's high-society swells. Unusually for a New York nightclub, black patrons are not just welcomed but privileged with the best seats in the house. You've heard the buzz about the resident singer, a year-old black woman called Billie Holiday who made her name up in Harlem with Count Basie's band.
Per her request, the waiters stopped serving and the room went completely black, save for a spotlight on her face. When Holiday finished, the spotlight turned off. When the lights came back on, the stage was empty. She was gone.