BRITISH SINGER Rebecca Ferguson has said she would only accept an invitation to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20 if she can sing Strange Fruit, an anti-lynching anthem popularised by Billie Holiday.
First recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and covered by Nina Simone in 1965, Strange Fruit is one of the nation’s most famous songs about racism.
The lyrics by Abel Meeropol graphically describe the lynchings of African-Americans:
“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”
Rebecca, who was a finalist on The X Factor in 2010, wrote on Twitter: “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 downtrodden 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.”
President-elect Donald Trump has been struggling to get A-listers to appear at his inauguration.
Elton John, Gene Simmons and Garth Brooks have all turned down invites, with many major artists aligning themselves with the Hillary Clinton campaign or not wishing to be associated with a Donald Trump presidency.