British X-Factor alum Rebecca Ferguson says she has been asked to perform at Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, and that she has agreed only on the condition that she is allowed to sing the anti-racism anthem “Strange Fruit.”
The singer tweeted her announcement on January 3:
“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 X”
— Rebecca Ferguson (@RebeccaFMusic) January 2, 2017
“Strange Fruit”, written by Abel Meeropol in 1937 and first recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939, graphically protests racism with its candid lyrics describing lynchings of African-Americans.
“Southern trees bear a 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”
Many artists have reportedly declined to sing at the January 20 inauguration, including Garth Brooks, Gene Simmons, Elton John, and Celine Dion. The only confirmed acts so far are the Radio City Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and former America’s Got Talent contestant Jackie Evancho.