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“Strange Fruit” Shellac Record

Recorded by Billie Holiday and Her Orchestra

In 1939, African American jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915–1959) recorded "Strange Fruit" on the Commodore label after Capitol, her usual record label, refused to issue a song about lynching. It eventually sold one million copies. 

Sound recording, Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit; Fine and Mellow

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Sound recording, Strange Fruit
Sound recording, Strange Fruit
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1939 exhibit
recording date
1939
ID Number
1996.3034.11383
nonaccession number
1996.3034
catalog number
1996.3034.11383
label number
526
Description (Brief)

Billy Holiday and her Orchestra. side 1: Strange Fruit; side 2: Fine and Mellow (Commodore 526)
78 rpm

Billie Holiday (1915–1959,) an African American jazz singer nicknamed Lady Day, emerged on the jazz scene after a difficult and impoverished upbringing. Known for her light, rhythmic singing, Holiday performed with some of the most famous American jazz musicians throughout the 1930s and 1940s. She first performed “Strange Fruit,” a song written by a Jewish poet about the lynching of African Americans, at the Café Society club in 1939. Her performances of the song were filled with emotion, and the recording reached number 16 on the charts. Holiday went on to release a number of other hits, but “Strange Fruit” remained the best-selling record of her career.

Location
Currently not on view
Credit Line
Gift of Robert B. Campbell in memory of Dorothy and William Campbell
recording artist
Billie Holiday and her Orchestra
composer
Allan, Lewis
manufacturer
Commodore
Related Publication
Rust, Brian. Jazz Records 1897-1942, Vol. 1
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
shellac (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 10 in; x 25.4 cm
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Object Name
sound recording
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a8-b96a-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
Record ID
nmah_1010838
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