Significant handwritten setlist by Billie Holiday, penned on the reverse of a 4 x 9 handbill for her shows at the Continental Room in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii, no date but circa 1950. Writing in blue ballpoint, Holiday lists the songs from her "2nd Show," in full: "Jeppers Creppers, Jones Man, Too Marvelous, Porgey, Them There Eyes, God Bless the Child, Please Don't Talk, Come Rain Shine, Strange Fruit." In fine condition, with a central horizontal fold, and an old tape stain at the top edge.
Written as a charged protest song against the horrifying lynching of black people in the South, "Strange Fruit" was recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939 and became a staple of her performances at the Cafe Society, New York City's first integrated nightclub. To recognize and emphasize the song's power, club owner Barney Josephson drew up some rules for its performance: Holiday would close with it; the waiters would stop all service in advance; the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on Holiday's face; and there would be no encore. Thus, it became the ritual, dramatic, melancholic close to her act—not just a song, but a socio-political declaration that reverberated through the night. This setlist written in Holiday's hand, fittingly naming her iconic song at the end her performance, is a moving and historically important piece.
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