Irvin Mayfield's 'Strange Fruit' Opus

Young Trumpeter/Composer's Musical Remembrance of Lynching

Listen: Hear the full-length combined music segments of 'Strange Fruit' recorded live (1 hr. 50 min.)

Trumpeter/composer Irvin Mayfield

Trumpeter/composer Irvin Mayfield hide caption

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Dillard University — a historically black college in New Orleans, La. — recently added the Institute of Jazz Culture to its educational program. The Institute chose as its director 25-year-old trumpeter/composer Irvin Mayfield, who only last week was named the cultural ambassador to the city of New Orleans.

Mayfield's signature presentation for the 2003-2004 season was Strange Fruit, a powerful 90-minute composition that chronicles the heavy subject of lynching in America.

The piece was recently performed at Dillard, and featured the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and the Dillard University concert choir. It is believed to be the first jazz piece of its kind ever to be commissioned by a university.

NPR's Tavis Smiley caught up with the young maestro to get the story behind his opus.

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