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Rebecca Ferguson poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back' in London, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

A pop star agreed to sing at the inauguration, if she can perform a song protesting racism


British pop star Rebecca Ferguson said she will accept an invitation to perform at President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, that is, if his team agrees to one condition. 

Ferguson, who was the UK X-Factor runner-up, said she wants to perform "Strange Fruit," a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday in the 1930s. 

The song's opening lyrics address lynching: Southern trees bear strange fruit // Blood on the leaves and blood at the root // Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze // Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx, originally wrote it as a protest poem aimed at highlighting racism in the southern part of the United States.

Holiday approached her recording label, Columbia, about recording the song under their name, but the company feared it would receive backlash from record retailers in the South, according to Billy Holiday's Estate

Instead, Columbia granted her a one-session release from her contract to record the song, which went on to sell a million copies.

In 1978, it was even inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

Tuesday, Ferguson released the following statement on the invitation to sing 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 downtrodden 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."


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