Andra Day confronts racism in America with cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’
Andra Day/YouTube

Andra Day’s 2015 Grammy-nominated hit, “Rise Up” has become an anthem of strength and perseverance to millions of people around the world. Day however, looks to other artists who came before to help find her own means of resilience when times get tough. One of those artists would be the late jazz singer/icon Billie Holiday, whom Day has shared a new cover of with the traditional jazz ballad, “Strange Fruit."

Premiering via Billboard on Friday morning, Day’s new cover of the traditional tune strikes a heavy and emotional chord in America at the moment. The song was made famous by Holiday back in the 1930s, as was originally derived from a poem published in 1937 about the lynching of African Americans, written by Bronx school teacher Abel Meeropol.

As heard in the new music video below, Day adds plenty of her own flavor and natural singing abilities to the song while keeping the heartbroken spirit of its lyrical content close to the heart. It’s certainly a version that both Meeropol and Holiday would have applauded. According to the video’s premiere, the video was shot on 35mm film giving it an older, haunting effect while highlighting “some of the many lynching sites that bear no memorial.”

“Billie Holiday is one of the greatest inspirations for what I do now,” Day said in a statement to go with the song and video’s premiere on Friday morning. "She used her music as her platform and her voice to speak for people who were not able to speak for themselves.”

Similar to Sam Cooke’s iconic version of “We Shall Overcome,” Day’s “Rise Up” in addition to her own new cover will hopefully help to heal deep wounds that still affect Americans every day. Well done Andra, Billie would certainly be proud.