Former singer of the Eurythmics Annie Lennox has reacted to the ‘Strange Fruit’ controversy by breaking silence on criticism about Billie Holiday’s popular song.
The singer has fired back at online criticism which has accused her of “whitewashing” the ‘Strange Fruit’ song’s original message, which Lennox did not elobrate on during her last official interview this past autumn.
The controversial song was performed by Billie Holiday during the 1930s and was later covered by numerous artists. It has now gained particular resonance as Lennox missed the point in a TV interview for not mentioning the lynching of African-Americans of the era.
‘Strange Fruit’ is included in the singer’s new CD ‘Nostalgia’ and when, in her October interview with Tavis Smiley she was asked about it, she explained how the track is a universal protest song referring to human violence and bigotry.
But Lennox never mentioned it was about lynchings and this is the reason behind the storm that exploded in blogs and websites, which she reportedly said was “painful” and unfair to her.
Appearing at a Television Critics Association meeting on 19 January, Lennox addressed the hurtful online criticism saying that it was “painful, so painful I can’t even begin to tell you…because I’m the last person that would disrespect that history.”
“I didn’t refer to the lynchings in our interview because I assumed that Tavis, being an incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable man, especially of African origin, would know what I was talking about,” she continued according to the Daily News.
“I’m a person who really, really cares about social injustice. Racism is so vile to me and it disturbs me. If I offended anyone, anyone, about not mentioning lynchings, I wholeheartedly apologize, but it was never intended. And I was hurt by this nasty blog. It was an opportunistic swipe at me, to be quite frank.”
She decided not to respond when criticism ensued on blogs and Twitter posts “because if I did that it would all get blown up again,” she stated.
For her, this is “a phenomena of our times that we live in, with Twitter and social media and everybody commenting. It’s very tricky. You can say something and be damned for it or not say something and be damned for that, and the Chinese whispers and the whole kind of whispering thing that goes on, it kind of shut me up.”
When the album came out, “I made a DVD about it and the first thing I said was that [‘Strange Fruit’] was about the lynchings in the deep South. It’s a shame, shameful thing.”