Rebecca Ferguson Will Only Perform "Strange Fruit" At Donald Trump's Inauguration Because Of Its Powerful Lyrics
President-elect Donald Trump has made threats to the Black Lives Matter movement, when not ignoring it completely, leaving many Americans feel unsure, unsafe, and rightfully angry. Singer Rebecca Ferguson is now taking extremely powerful action to say something about it. The 30-year-old and alum of UK's 2010 X Factor took to Twitter on Monday to announce Ferguson has been asked to perform at Trump's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20. But there's a catch. The performer will only take the stage with the song of her choosing: "Strange Fruit." With extremely powerful lyrics, the song was once blacklisted in the states for being controversial, which is exactly why Ferguson wants to remind America of its message. Revisiting the lyrics in 2016 is as chilling as it is heartbreaking.
With a post simply titled "Inauguration ceremony," the singer explains why she chooses the 1937 song, most recognized by Billie Holiday's rendition:
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
Written by Jewish socialist Abel Meeropol (with pseudonym Lewis Allan), The Independent refers to the poem as a "protest song about lynchings of African-Americans in the 20th century," capturing his utter disbelief and remorse over what he witnessed. In addition to Holiday, it's been performed by Nina Simone (which was sampled in Kanye West's "Blood on the Leaves"), Sting, and John Martyn. The reality of the lyrics is horrifying, and to think it applies to 2016 America is hard to even believe.
In the first verse, helpless, lynched bodies are referred to as "strange fruit hanging from the trees":
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
The cruelties are intensified in the second verse, which describes the views and scents of senseless murders:
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
Lastly, the song captures the disregard and carelessness over human lives that were taken for no reason at all:
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
It is 2017, and still Americans are witnessing innocent black lives being taken for no reason. Unarmed citizens are killed point-blank and murders are intentionally being captured on cell phones. The reality of society is truly sickening, but it's a reality that Ferguson is brave enough to show the world, with hope that love will ultimately conquer senseless hate. Now, it's Trump's move to show he's listening.