Singer Rebecca Ferguson, who appeared on the U.K. version of "X-Factor," says that she was asked to perform at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Ferguson posted her answer, which included one condition, on Twitter on Jan. 2:
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.
The Independent notes that "Strange Fruit" was originally a 1937 poem by Abel Meeropol about lynchings in the American South.
The song was recorded by legendary blues singer Billie Holiday in 1939, and includes these haunting lyrics: "Southern trees bear 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."
According to CNN, the Trump inaugural committee has scheduled Jackie Evancho ("America's Got Talent"), the Radio City Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Pop star Elton John refused a request in November, which contradicted Trump's presidential inaugural committee's claim of a booking, while the Beach Boys told CNN that "no decision has been made at this point as to how or whether they will participate."
Holiday's website notes some backstory on the famous song "Strange Fruit":
Holiday approached her recording label, Columbia, about the song, but the company feared reaction by record retailers in the South, as well as negative reaction from affiliates of its co-owned radio network, CBS. Even John Hammond, Holiday’s producer, refused. So she turned to friend Milt Gabler, whose Commodore label produced alternative jazz.
Holiday sang "Strange Fruit" for him a cappella, and moved him to tears. Columbia allowed Holiday a one-session release from her contract in order to record it and Frankie Newton’s eight-piece Cafe Society Band was used for the session.
Because he was worried that the song was too short, Gabler asked pianist Sonny White to improvise an introduction so that Holiday only starts singing after 70 seconds. Gabler worked out a special arrangement with Vocalion Records to record and distribute the song. The song was highly regarded and the 1939 record sold a million copies, in time becoming Holiday’s biggest-selling record.