BLUES LEGEND BETTYE LAVETTE RELEASES POWERFUL RENDITION OF "STRANGE FRUIT" AHEAD OF SCHEDULE TO GIVE VOICE TO MODERN DAY LYNCHINGS ON JUNE 12
Track to be featured on her upcoming album "Blackbirds," a tribute to iconic black women in music on August 28
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today. "Strange Fruit" was originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and written by Jewish teacher Abel Meeropol who wrote the song based on a photo of two black men who were lynched as a crowd of white people looked in the camera pointing and smiling. LaVette's version will be featured on her album, "Blackbirds" (Verve) set for release August 28.
"It really is horrifying that nearly 80 years later, through Billie's lifetime and now my 74 years, the meaning of this song still applies. It might not be men and women hanging from trees, but these public executions are now on video and it feels like they're doing it for sport. I hope the song will be a reminder that we have had enough, and I support the Black Lives Matter movement," said LaVette.
"Blackbirds," features songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic women in music, who she personally respected and admired. Set for release August 28, the album finds LaVette in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. It also re-unites her with producer Steve Jordan.
From Dinah Washington's "Drinking Again," Nina Simone's "I Hold No Grudge," Nancy Wilson's "Save Your Love For Me" and more, all delivered in LaVette's rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues.
Bettye LaVette is a native of Detroit. Her first recording in 1962, at the age of sixteen, was on Atlantic Records. She later charted with such singles as "He Made A Woman Out Of Me" and "Do Your Duty," Since then she has recorded ten albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed, also produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), was released on Verve in 2018 and received two GRAMMY nominations, which brings her total Grammy nominations to five.