With 2015 marking the centennial of Billie Holiday's birth, many artists have unveiled plans to pay tribute to the jazz great. We can hardly wait for March to arrive to scoop up releases from José James and Rebecca Ferguson. So you can imagine our excitement went through the roof when we learned that Cassandra Wilson would be releasing her own tribute album, Coming Forth by Day, on April 7th.
Conceptualized by celebrated producer Nick Launay, the album will include 11 covers and one original composition. Fueling our anticipation is the album's first release "Strange Fruit," undeniably one of Ms. Holiday's most brilliant recordings. Originally a poem by Abel Meeropol, the song was debuted by Lady Day in 1939 at Café Society, the first integrated nightclub in New York. Now. Over 75 years later, Ms. Wilson gives a bold reinterpretation of the dark subject matter. Backed by dramatic piano (Jon Cowherd), militant drums (Thomas Wydler) and moody bass (Martyn P. Casey), Wilson's velvety vocals beckon the listener to journey back in time, yet remain firmly planted in the present. With soaring string arrangement by the legendary Van Dyke Parks and a penetrating electric guitar solo by Nick Zinner, the spell-binding arrangement is one we won't soon forget.
Preview the song below, then watch the making of video to learn more about the project. If you're lucky, you can catch Ms. Wilson on tour as she promotes the album. Coming Forth by Day is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and iTunes.