I was so satisfied to see the selection of letters to the editor and the “Strange Fruit” item on page 8 of April’s issue of offBeat. Their response is, finally, exactly what I could hope. Maybe better than I hoped for.
It begins: “On our March cover, we demonstrated a remarkable lack of judgment and sensitivity when we matched a photo of a young band hanging from monkey bars with the headline ‘Strange Fruit.’ The combination of the phrase and the hanging image was far too close to the subject of the Billie Holiday song first recorded in 1939–lynching–and we’re profoundly sorry for our mistake.” And it ends, “We regret treating such a history so casually, and we’ll make an effort to do better in the future.”
In between these well-expressed statements is a history of the song, “Strange Fruit,” highlighting a haunting story of a woman following Billie Holiday into the powder room, screaming at her, “Don’t you sing that song again! Don’t you dare!”, ripping her dress and then tearfully explaining how it reminded her of a lynching she’d witnessed as a child. Wow. Powerful stuff.
Thank you, offBeat, for listening to your readers and using the opportunity to bring the important thing back in focus — the music. Thank you for being, once more, a magazine we can be proud of, as New Orleanians and lovers of music.
Serendipitously, a friend posted a related image on Facebook, which I found on the Internet, here. I think it sums up the entire month for me.