This is too much! The BEST live performance I have seen in recent memory, I actually had to press pause to settle down before continuing. This Woman has no equal today and if you know the history of this song you know it isn’t something you just sing, you must reach inside yourself and present raw pain to the audience. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and so many more will know their legacy is still alive in Jill. In an age where singers like Taylor Swift are considered ICONS of music, I am happy that such performances can happen and be seen by the masses. Below is the Essence article on the performance.
Jill Scott gave a chilling performance of “Strange Fruit,” the iconic protest song made popular by Bille Holiday, on A&E’s Shining a Lightconcert special this past weekend. Scott joined the likes of John Legend, Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, Aloe Blacc and more for a concert special meant to address racial inequality and violence in America.
Holiday recorded “Strange Fruit” (written by Abel Meeropol, a White Jewish poet) in 1939. Meeropol had originally written it as a poem that he published in a teacher’s union publication and later performed. According to NPR, a nightclub owner gave the poem to Holiday who decided to sing it.
The song was written in reponse to the mass lynching of Black men in the South in the early 20th century, but could easily apply to the racial injustice our communities face today.
Watch JIll Scott’s tear-inducing performance above, and Holiday’s below.