One of the more interesting, but lesser known figures in the history of NYC music is Abe Meeropol. Meeropol was born to Russian born immigrants in the Bronx in 1903. He graduated from DeWitt Clinton, the City University of New York and taught high school English at Clinton for years.
Meeropol, however, is best known for writing a protest song, which became a Billy Holiday signature song, “Strange Fruit.” Holiday first performed the song in Greenwich Village at Barney Josephson’s Cafe Society in 1939. (Cafe Society and Holiday’s performances of the song are worth posts of their own….Another time.)
Meeropol, a member of the Communist party, and his wife Anne, eventually adopted two sons, none other than Michael and Robert, the sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were both executed for espionage.
I was reluctant to post a link to “Strange Fruit” first thing in the morning. You can find it on YouTube if you’d like to listen to it. But there is another song that Meeropol wrote–he wrote it under the pen name Lewis Allen–that gained some fame when sung by perhaps the most famous singer of the 20th century and featured in a short film of the same name. Can you name the song/film and the performer? CLICK HERE