Upon listening to Strange Fruit by Nina Simon for the first time, my body responded by covering it’s self with goose bumps as my eyes lids closed with the weight of sorrow once the songs content made its way clear into my mind. Days later after marinating the experience, I research the history and heard the original by Billy Holiday. The message sank deeper in my body and I realized a creation would soon develop. I needed to understand how the song came to be and found it was written by Abel Meeropol originally titled "Bitter Fruit", a school teacher who wrote poems. Abel wrote the poem (1937) after viewing a photograph of a lynching. He later added music and the name it "Strange Fruit". He played it for a New York City club owner who passed it on to Billie Holiday and sang it in 1939, the rest as they say is history.
I had a vision that this creation would develop into sculpture rather than a painting. After sorting out a few ideas by sketching, the following was created.
Abel Meeropol Billy Holiday Nina Simon
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
Abel cited this photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, August 7, 1930, inspiring his poem, "Strange Fruit".