In what has become an annual 4th of July tradition, we’re sharing this remarkable alternative "National Anthem: Arise Arise" by activist artist and RFC friend, Jean Rohe. It's gorgeous and hits on so many topics, so gracefully… We love to imagine stadiums of people rising to sing an anthem that references "Strange Fruit" and the electric chair and back alley abortions and slavery and class issues and everything else this gorgeous song explores. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay1iC1zt24A
Today's #StrangeFruitMOTD comes from Tank and The Bangas' song, “Stolen Fruit,” which they released ahead of their latest album, "Red Balloon." The song is a commentary on slavery in the U.S. and draws inspiration from Abel Meeropol's anti-lynching protest song, "Strange Fruit."
On "Stolen Fruit," lead singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball explains:"[it's] basically about the slave trade. There’s ‘Strange Fruit,’ and I call this one ‘Stolen Fruit,’ because not only were the fruit strange, but they were also stolen. They weren’t from here."
Today's #StrangeFruitMOTD comes from Austin, TX where a Houston native high school student, Douglas Mills, Jr. auditioned for this season of American Idol with a powerful rendition of "Strange Fruit."
The song, written by Abel Meeropol and made famous by Billie Holiday, protests lynchings of Black Americans and is a staple of the civil rights movement.
The emotional and captivating performance left the judges in awe. After giving Mills a standing ovation, country music singer Luke Bryan said, "I'm speechless about it."
One day after her birthday, another Nina Simone-focused Strange Fruit Mention of the Day highlights her “five greatest isolated vocals”: “Billie Holiday is the artist...most intrinsically linked with ‘Strange Fruit’... During the ’60s, Simone paid tribute to Holiday by covering the classic. Sadly, the lyrics were still relevant as Black people fought for their rights to be recognized as equal citizens. She was a key player in the Civil Rights Movement, and the raw emotion in her voice throughout this isolated version of ‘Strange Fruit’ will touch your core.”
We love everything about this Strange Fruit Mention of the Day, which comes to us from Australia courtesy of a recycling, socially aware gospel chorus: “The Canberra community choir—named after two iconic songs ‘Strange Fruit’ and ‘Stormy Weather’—features a repertoire of folk, contemporary, African, Indigenous as well as gospel and spiritual music.
Rachel Gilks, Convener of Strange Weather, says that as well as bringing together people from all walks of life to sing together, ‘we’re very socially aware and want to do what we can for the planet and for Canberra.’
Strange Fruit Mention of the Day: From WBUR’s “7 Albums to listen to this fall,” we’re excited for Naomi Westwater, 'Feelings':
🔳 “Boston’s Naomi Westwater uses their newest release, a kaleidoscopic six-track EP aptly called ‘Feelings,’ to better express a multitude of their own."
ICYMI: A thorough and personal reflection from RFC Founder Robert Meeropol about his father Abel Meeropol and his anti-lynching protest song "Strange Fruit." This is a recording from the World Fellowship Center's June 28th virtual event, "Strange Fruit: the Inside Story" covering the history and origin of the song, as well as its cultural impact over time. Stick around, too, for a lively discussion generated during the Q&A!
An alternative anthem that we love from Activist Artist, Jean Rohe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay1iC1zt24A.
Lyrics, with gratitude to Dr. Martin Luther King and Abel Meeropol, via Billie Holiday, provided by the artist:
Atlantic and Pacific flow
The Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico
The land between sustains us all
To cherish it, our tireless call
Strange Fruit Mention of the Day: The lyrics to "Strange Fruit" were not subtle; the song's author Abel Meeropol juxtaposed the "pastoral scene of the gallant south" against graphic depictions of lynching, which the article describes as a "sickening historical tale."
According to PBS, Billie Holiday began performing "Strange Fruit" live at Cafe Society in NYC and would end her show with it each night ("nothing could follow it"). Even today, the song "has the power to startle," still unnervingly resonant with "a legacy of violence, hurt and fear" the U.S. has yet to overcome.
Artists as Activists Mention of the Day: The latest from V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of "The Vagina Monologues," and an RFC advisory board member. A powerful take on how societies the world wide have enabled a "severe setback to women's liberation" during the chaos of the pandemic. Just as with "disaster capitalism," V says, disaster patriarchy takes "full advantage of the virus to reclaim power" because, indeed, patriarchy "has never been truly deconstructed, and like an untreated virus it will return with a vengeance when the conditions are ripe."