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Tue, 02.10.1903

Abel Meeropol, Composer born

Abel Meeropol

*Abel Meeropol was born on this date in 1903. He was a white Jewish-American writer, teacher, and songwriter.

Meeropol was born in The Bronx, New York City, and wrote under the name "Lewis Allan" in memory of the names of his two stillborn children. Meeropol wrote the anti-lynching poem "Strange Fruit" (1937), first published in the Marxist publication The New Masses and was subsequently set to music. The song's best-known recordings and performances were by Billie Holiday and Josh White. Holiday claimed in Lady Sings the Blues that she co-wrote the music to the song with Meeropol and Sonny White, but Meeropol was the sole writer of both the lyrics and melody.

Meeropol wrote many poems and songs, including the Frank Sinatra and Josh White hit "The House I Live In." It was this song that the white producer omitted his words, Black and White, in the 1945 Academy Award-winning short film Sinatra performance. During the first screening, Meeropol jumped out of his seat and screamed, “they have ruined my song.” He also wrote the libretto of Robert Kurka's opera The Good Soldier Schweik.

Later, he and his wife Anne adopted Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's two sons, Michael and Robert, after their parents' executions. Michael and Robert took the Meeropol surname. According to Robert Meeropol, "Strange Fruit," "The House I Live In," and the Peggy Lee hit "Apples, Peaches and Cherries" provided most of the royalty income of the family.

Abel Meeropol died on October 30, 1986, at the Jewish Nursing Home in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
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