Sound Recording, "Strange Fruit"

Description (Brief)
Billie Holiday (1915–1959,) an African American jazz singer nicknamed Lady Day, emerged on the jazz scene after a difficult and impoverished upbringing. Known for her light, rhythmic singing, Holiday performed with some of the most famous American jazz musicians throughout the 1930s and 1940s. She first performed “Strange Fruit,” a song written by a Jewish poet about the lynching of African Americans, at the Café Society club in 1939. Her performances of the song were filled with emotion, and the recording reached number 16 on the charts. Holiday went on to release a number of other hits, but “Strange Fruit” remained the best-selling record of her career.
Currently not on view
Object Name
sound recording
date made
recording artist
Billie Holiday and her Orchestra
Allan, Lewis
Physical Description
shellac (overall material)
overall: 10 in; x 25.4 cm
place made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
label number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Music & Musical Instruments
1939 exhibit
Popular Entertainment
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Robert B. Campbell in memory of Dorothy and William Campbell
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.