Strange Fruit Essay

1201 Words Apr 25th, 2016 5 Pages
Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday
Initial reactions to the work
This song, by Billie Holiday, was made famous with its dark meaning and the astounding performance that was brought forwards. With nothing more than a fine piano, a few brass instruments, and the haunting pain heard in Ms. Holiday’s voice, this piece of music was truly a gem of modernism. Billie Holiday did an amazing job with the simulation of pure distraught that was easily conveyed to me. The sense of sadness and lamentation is truly genuine and the tone can only be recreated by Lady Day herself.
Historical context
Holiday’s piece of music was released at the end of the American Great Depression, which resulted from a crash in the stock market, causing a deep depression
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Many Americans had fought against the racism that Hitler and began utilizing in Germany, yet racism against blacks was quite common during this time. However, this issue would be the fuel in creating the masterpiece that is “Strange Fruit” (Tabery, 2008).
Biographical context
Billie Holiday was a legendary jazz singer at her time, praised for adding a soulful and emotional tone to her music. Her compositions are still regarded as some of the greatest pieces of music to ever come out during that era. She was born as Eleanora Fagan on April 7, 1915 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania into poverty. She worked by the age of six, later sparking trouble from her truancies from school. Her childhood and adolescence was spent in Baltimore with her bringing up. While working in after-hours jazz clubs, she found solace in singing along to the works of Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith.
She later moved to New York along with her mother, beginning to have performances in small Harlem nightclubs, which lead her to acquire her name, Billie Holiday, from a screen star she had admired who was named Billie Dove. She never underwent professional training and therefore, didn’t know how to properly read music. While jumping from club to club, working only for tips, she caught the eye of John Hammond, who was part of a recording group that was close to public prominence at the time. From there, her career would get a push in 1935, establishing her as a truly remarkable jazz singer

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