Strange Fruit is a song performed most famously by 1930's jazz singer Billie Holiday, who first sang and recorded it in 1939.It was written by a Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx, Abel Meeropol as a poem to expose American racism, particularly the lynchings of African-Americans in the south. Abel was horrified by the lynchings. Thus, he set his poem to music and performed it as a protest song around New York, even at the Madison Square Garden.
When Billie Holiday's management heard the song at Madison Square, they introduced it to her. But she was fearful of singing it because of white retaliation. The imagery also reminded her of her father. Holiday overcame her fear and closed performances with Strange Fruit. At clubs, all waiters would stop service; the room would grow dark, and Holiday would stand with her eyes closed, as if she were evoking a prayer. "Strange Fruit hanging from the poplar trees..."