Two-time Grammy nominee Andra Day covers iconic song to join Google in support of the Equal Justice Initiative's "Lynching in America" initiative.
Andra Day, the award-winning singer, songwriter, and philanthropist, released today a recording and music video for Strange Fruit, the historic song originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939. The recording is available on the Lynching in America site (lynchinginamerica.eji.org/strange-fruit) and Andra Day's YouTube channel. Andra will also be performing Strange Fruit as part of her set at the Global Citizens Festival in NYC on September 23rd.
The goal of Lynching in America, which brings EJI's multi-year investigation into more than 4,000 reported racial terror lynchings that took place in the United States during the period between Reconstruction and World War II to life, is to spark a national conversation about the connection between America's painful history of racial violence and the forms of injustice that exist today, including racially-biased capital punishment, excessive sentencing, disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, and police abuse of people of color.
As part of Google's focus on Inclusion, the company has given more than $2MM in grants to the Equal Justice Initiative. In addition, Google volunteers have been working with the organization to digitize the Lynching in America research and ensure that as many people as possible have access to the information and content. The Equal Justice Initiative firmly believes that until we face the truth of our past, we cannot heal the deep wounds of our present.
Bryan Stevenson, the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative says, "In this collaboration between Andra Day, EJI, and Google, we use music to express a painful and difficult truth about our nation's history of racial inequality. Inspired music has the power to expose and confront injustice differently than research, data and words alone. It can heal and uplift us, it's critical for human rights. Justice work needs a soundtrack that inspires the struggle, it's energizing that talented artists like Andra rise to the challenge."
Andra Day says, "Billie Holiday is one of the greatest inspirations for what I do now. She used her music as her platform and her voice to speak for people who were not able to speak for themselves. I am equally inspired by the work of Bryan Stevenson and EJI and I hope this song ignites new conversations about the connection between our past and present." In the same spirit of music as activism, Andra also performed Stand Up For Something, the title track off of the upcoming film, Marshall, about Thurgood Marshall, the first African American United States Supreme Court Justice.
Andra Day first premiered her cover of Strange Fruit with a live performance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on August 23rd (link to performance). The performance was preceded by a segment with Bryan Stevenson and Andra Day about the ideology of white supremacy and the timeliness of initiatives like Lynching in America (link to clip).