Glamorous and socially conscious British pop star Rebecca Ferguson gave her career a big boost on a reality TV show (X-Factor). That means she has a lot in common with President-elect Donald Trump, who did the same on The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice. What Ferguson doesn’t share with Trump is his incendiary rhetoric on race. So in response to reportedly being asked to perform at Trump’s inauguration, Ferguson said she’ll do it only if she can use the platform to deliver a different kind of message. She posted the following:
“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”
Great American jazz singer Billie Holiday (see Lady Sings the Blues) made “Strange Fruit” the famous and forbidden fruit it became in the early 20th century. It’s an inspiring choice by Ferguson. The “strange fruit” of the title refers to the blood and “black bodies swinging” from southern trees that have been used for lynchings.