Estranged Fruit

2011

A study in the application of political history and socio-political meaning through the introduction of one of America’s most famous protest song, Strange Fruit, into China’s growing rock scene, via Chinese punk rock & industrial metal band, VooDooKungFu.

The ability to protest is a privilege. In some contexts, that “privilege” is opposed with militarism. Interested in the political efficacy of music, The Propeller Group have turned their attention to the the punk/rock scene in communist China, now thriving and thumping with contagious rock-n-roll energy.  The Propeller Group has begun a collaboration with Beijing industrial metal band VooDoo KungFu.  We set out to create a unique rendition of one of the first major protest song in the U.S. titled “Strange Fruit”. In 1939, “Strange Fruit” was recorded, widely distributed and made famous by Billie Holiday, later becoming her biggest selling record.

VooDoo KungFu’s first rendition of “Strange Fruit” was performed entirely in English and recorded in their unique styling integrating traditional Chinese instruments and a dark metal feel.  The Propeller Group is currently working with VooDoo KungFu to develop a Mandarin version of the song.

GALLERY INSTALLATION

Estranged Fruit was displayed in its first iteration in Hong Kong at 1A Space as an installation. A wall that was built to partition the space was fabricated with three speakers attached to the 15-centimeter-thick exposed end of the wall. The bare speakers were pointed into the wall where a system of pipes channeled the sound through the inside of the wall and out the other end through small speaker holes on the surface of the wall.

The first speaker played the original Billie Holiday version.
The second speaker had the cover versions playing back to back.
The third speaker had VooDoo KungFu’s new rendition.

The white wall, approximately 4.5 meters long, had white vinyl lettering listing out the artists who had covered this song as an official recording and the dates the recording was made.

COVERS

1939 – Billie Holiday
1941 – Sidney Bechet
1951 – Josh White
1957 – Webster Young
1958 – John Sellers
1965 – Nina Simone
1972 – Diana Ross
1980 – UB40
1982 – Robert Wyatt
1987 – Siouxsie and the Banshees
1987 – The Gun Club
1990 – Ranee Lee
1993 – Abbey Lincoln
1993 – Catherine Wheel
1994 – Sounds Of Blackness
1994 – Terence Blanchard
1994 – Tori Amos
1995 – Wilson, Cassandra
1997 – Archie Shepp
1998 – Marcus Miller
1998 – John Martyn
1999 – Cocteau Twins
2001 – Karan Casey
2001 – Jimmy Scott
2002 – Tricky
2003 – Jeff Buckley
2003 – Deian McBryde
2004 – India Arie
2004 – Sting & Gil Evans
2004 – The Twilight Singers
2005 – Karate
2005 – Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy
2006 – Lou Rawls
2007 – Artificial Animals
2008 – Snowman
2008 – This Bike is A Pipe Bomb
2009 – Common Featuring John Legend
2010 – Dee Dee Bridgewater
2010 – The Wynton Marsalis Quintet
2010 – Voodoo KungFu [Beijing, China]

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