Well... MOSTLY Ella, Most of the Time....

Okay, so I like other people in addition to Ella. Like her polar-opposite contemporary, Billie Holiday. I recently filled out my collection of "The Quintessential Billie Holiday" only to find not once, in nine discs, of a recording of "Strange Fruit". Its omission is nothing short of a crime.

"Strange Fruit" was written by a Jewish school teacher after he saw the (now infamous) photos of a lynching in Indiana in the 30s. He introduced Billie Holiday to the song and she first sang it in freakin' *1939*!!! Brave girl! (Kinda puts some of our problems today in perspective, methinks.)

Billie had to seriously fight (and temporarily jump labels!) to get this song
recorded. Despite her fear of repercussions it became her best-selling record and she ended just about every live concert with it. Legend has it one of the reasons she ended her concerts with it was because she broke down every time she sang it, so she couldn't sing it in the middle of things.

Totally messed-up lady in her private life, but damn, look in her eyes while she sings--her heart's out there for everyone to see.