Rebecca Ferguson performs during the Olympics—Paralympics Team GB - Rio 2016 Victory Parade in Manchester, England, on Oct. 17, 2016.
Jan Kruger—Getty Images
By Charlotte Alter
January 2, 2017

Singer Rebecca Ferguson says she will accept Donald Trump’s invitation to sing at his inauguration under one condition: she wants to sing “Strange Fruit.”

The song, originally performed by Billie Holiday based on a poem by Abel Meeropol, contains gut-wrenching imagery of black lynching victims swinging from Southern tree limbs in the early 20th century. The phrase “strange fruit” refers to “black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,” and the song is widely considered one of the major anti-racist songs of the 20th century.

In a statement posted to Twitter Monday, Ferguson said that she has been asked to perform at the inauguration:

I’ve been asked and this is my answer. If you allow me to sing “Strange Fruit” a song that has huge historical importance, a song that was blacklisted in the United States for being too controversial. A song that speaks to all the disregarded and down trodden black people in the United States. A song that is a reminder of how love is the only thing that will conquer all the hatred in this world, then I will graciously accept your invitation and see you in Washington.

No word yet on whether Donald Trump has accepted her compromise.

Write to Charlotte Alter at


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