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Billie Holiday, the legendary American jazz vocalist, was born on April 7, 1915, and died in 1959 at the age of 44.AP
“Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze/ Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”
The lynching of Black Americans remained horrifyingly common in the 1930s, when Abel Meeropol wrote this unflinching composition. “Fruit” was brought vividly to life by Billie Holiday in 1939, and has been covered and sampled by countless artists, including Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley and Kanye West.
American singer Mahalia Jackson sings at the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. On Aug. 28, 1963.Bob Parent, Getty Images
The 1951 hymn by Clara Ward made history when it was performed by the “Queen of Gospel” at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, in front of a crowd of 250,000.
Singer Sam Cooke performs at a concert in New York’s Copacabana night club in this undated photo. (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: APHS141 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]AP
In the last year of his life, Sam Cooke released his masterpiece — one he wrote after being turned away from a whites-only motel. Forty-four years later, it would be quoted by America’s first Black president. Moments after winning the 2008 election, Barack Obama told his supporters, “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, change has come to America.”