Who is Nina Simone

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Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist who worked in a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

Born in North Carolina, the sixth child of a preacher, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of the few supporters in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in North Carolina and raised in Tryon, North Carolina. The sixth of eight children in a poor family, she began playing piano at age three; the first song she learned was “God Be With You, Till We Meet Again”. Demonstrating a talent with the instrument, she performed at her local church. But her concert debut, a classical recital, was given when she was 12. Simone later said that during this performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. She said that she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front, and that the incident contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement.

After her graduation, Simone spent the summer of 1950 at the Juilliard School, preparing for an audition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her application, however, was denied. As her family had relocated to Philadelphia in the expectation of her entry to Curtis, the blow to her aspirations was particularly heavy, and she suspected that her application had been denied because of racial prejudice. Discouraged, she took private piano lessons with Vladimir Sokoloff, a professor at Curtis, but never re-applied to the institution. For several years, she worked a number of menial jobs and taught piano in Philadelphia

n 1964, Simone changed record distributors from the American Colpix to the Dutch Philips, which also meant a change in the contents of her recordings. She had always included songs in her repertoire that drew upon her African-American origins (such as “Brown Baby” by Oscar Brown and “Zungo” by Michael Olatunji in her album Nina at the Village Gate in 1962). On her debut album for Philips, Nina Simone in Concert (live recording, 1964), for the first time she openly addressed the racial inequality that was prevalent in the United States with the song “Mississippi Goddam”, her response to the June 12, 1963, murder of Medgar Evers and the September 15, 1963, bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young black girls and partially blinded a fifth girl who survived. She remarked that the title and the song itself was, “like throwing 10 bullets back at them”, becoming one of many other protest songs written by Simone. The song was released as a single, and it was boycotted in certain southern states.[19][20] Specifically, promotional copies were smashed by a Carolina radio station and returned to Simone’s record label.[Simone later recalled how “Mississippi Goddam” was her “first civil rights song” and that the song came to her “in a rush of fury, hatred and determination”. The song was a direct challenge to widely held beliefs that race relations could change gradually and called for more immediate developments, “me and my people are just about due”. “Old Jim Crow”, on the same album, addressed the Jim Crow laws.

From then on, a civil rights message was standard in Simone’s recording repertoire, becoming a part of her live performances. During the rise of her political activism, the release of her musical work grew more infrequent.Simone performed and spoke at many civil rights meetings, such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches. Simone advocated violent revolution during the civil rights period, rather than Martin Luther King’s non-violent approach, and she hoped that African Americans could, by armed combat, form a separate state. Her message to the public signified the transition from the non-violent approach to social change that was advocated by Martin Luther King into the more militant state that was implemented by Malcolm X and the associates of the Black Nationalist Movement.Nevertheless, she wrote in her autobiography that she and her family regarded all races as equal.

Simone had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the late 1980s.In 1993, Simone settled near Aix-en-Provence in Southern France. She had suffered from breast cancer for several years before she died in her sleep at her home in Carry-le-Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhône on April 21, 2003. Her funeral service was attended by singers Miriam Makeba and Patti LaBelle, poet Sonia Sanchez, actor Ossie Davis, actress Ruby Dee, and hundreds of others. Simone’s ashes were scattered in several African countries. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, an actress and singer, who took the stage name Simone, and has appeared on Broadway in Aida

The documentary Nina Simone: La légende (The Legend) was made in the 1990s by French filmmakers,based on her autobiography I Put a Spell on You. It features live footage from different periods of her career, interviews with family, various interviews with Simone then living in the Netherlands, and while on a trip to her birthplace. A portion of footage from The Legend was taken from an earlier 26-minute biographical documentary by Peter Rodis, released in 1969 and entitled simply, Nina. Her filmed 1976 performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival is available on video courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment and is screened annually in New York City at an event called “The Rise and Fall of Nina Simone: Montreux, 1976” which is curated by Tom Blunt.

Footage of Simone singing “Mississippi Goddamn” for 40,000 marchers at the end of the Selma to Montgomery marches can be seen in the 1970 documentary King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis and the 2015 Liz Garbus documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?

Plans for a Simone biographical film were released at the end of 2005, to be based on Simone’s autobiography I Put a Spell on You (1992) and to focus on her relationship in later life with her assistant, Clifton Henderson, who died in 2006; Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, has since refuted the existence of a romantic relationship between Simone and Henderson on account of his homosexuality Cynthia Mort, screenwriter of Will & Grace and Roseanne, has written the screenplay and directed the film, Nina, which stars Zoe Saldana in the title role.In May 2014, the film was shown to potential distributors at the Cannes Film Festival, but has, as of August 2014, not been seen by reviewers.

In 2015, two documentary features about Simone’s life and music were released. The first, directed by Liz Garbus, What Happened, Miss Simone? was produced in cooperation with Simone’s estate and her daughter, who also served as the film’s executive producer. The film was produced as a counterpoint to the unauthorized Cynthia Mort film, and featured previously unreleased archival footage. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2015 and was distributed by Netflix on June 26, 2015.It was nominated on January 14, 2016 for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The Amazing Nina Simone is an independent film directed by Jeff L. Lieberman and is also scheduled for release in 2015. The director initially consulted with Simone’s daughter before going the independent route and instead worked closely with her siblings, predominantly Sam Waymon.

Honors

Simone was the recipient of a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000 for her interpretation of “I Loves You, Porgy.” She has also received fifteen Grammy Award nominations. On Human Kindness Day 1974 in Washington, D.C., more than 10,000 people paid tribute to Simone. Simone received two honorary degrees in music and humanities, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.She preferred to be called “Dr. Nina Simone” after these honors were bestowed upon her.

Two days before her death, Simone was awarded an honorary degree by the Curtis Institute of Music, the music school that had refused to admit her as a student at the beginning of her career.

In 2002, the city of Nijmegen, Netherlands, named a street after her, the Nina Simone straat; she had lived in Nijmegen between 1988 and 1990. On August 29, 2005, the city of Nijmegen, concert hall De Vereeniging, and more than fifty artists (amongst whom were Frank Boeijen, Rood Adeo, and Fay Claassen)honoured Simone with the tribute concert Greetings from Nijmegen.

Simone was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.

In 2010, a statue in her honor was erected in Trade Street in her native Tryon, North Carolina.

                                               Nina Simone  Chart singlesNina Simone 1965.jpg

Year  Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
1959 “Chilly Winds Don’t Blow”
b/w “Solitaire”
“I Loves You, Porgy”
b/w “Love Me Or Leave Me”
“Little Girl Blue”
b/w “He Needs Me”
“Children Go Where I Send You”
b/w “Willow Weep For Me”
“Don’t Smoke In Bed”
b/w “African Mailman” (from Nina Simone and Her Friends)
“The Other Woman”
b/w “It Might As Well Be Spring” (from The Amazing Nina Simone)
1960 “Mood Indigo”
b/w “Central Park Blues”
“For All We Know”
b/w “Good Bait” (from Little Girl Blue)
“Summertime”
b/w “Fine and Mellow”
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
b/w “Plain Gold Ring”
“Since My Love Has Gone”
b/w “Tomorrow (We Shall Meet Once More)” (from The Amazing Nina Simone)
“Central Park”
b/w “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” (from Nina Simone and Her Friends)
“If Only For Tonight”
b/w “Under The Lowest” (from Nina Simone At Town Hall)
“Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”
b/w “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” (from Nina Simone At Town Hall)
1961 “Trouble In Mind”
b/w “Cotton Eye Joe” (from Nina’s Choice)
“Work Song”
b/w “Memphis In June”
“Gin House Blues”
b/w “You Can Have Him” (from Nina Simone At Town Hall)
“Come On Back, Jack”
b/w “You’ve Been Gone Too Long” (from The Amazing Nina Simone)
1962 “In The Evening By The Moonlight”
b/w “Chilly Winds Don’t Blow” (from The Amazing Nina Simone)
“I Got It Bad”
b/w “I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl” (Non-album track)
“My Baby Just Cares For Me”
b/w “He Needs Me”
“Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me”
b/w “Hey, Buddy Bolen”
“Exactly Like You”
b/w “Fine and Mellow”
“Merry Mending”
b/w “Something To Live For”
“You Better Know It”
b/w “I Like The Sunrise”
“It Don’t Mean A Thing”
b/w “The Gal From Joe’s”
“I Can’t Get Out Of This Mood”
b/w “Willow Weep For Me”
1963 “Little Liza Jane”
b/w “Blackbird” (from Nina Simone With Strings)
1964 “I Loves You Porgy”
b/w “Old Jim Crow” (Non-album track)
“Mississippi *%??**&%”
b/w “Sea Lion Woman” (from Broadway-Blues-Ballads)
“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
b/w “A Monster” (Non-album track)
1965 “I Am Blessed”
b/w “How Can I”
“I Put A Spell On You”
b/w “Gimme Some”
“Either Way I Lose”
b/w “Break Down and Let It All Out”
1966 “Why Keep On Breaking My Heart”
b/w “I Love Your Lovin’ Ways”
“I Love You’ve Lovin’ Ways”
b/w “See-Line Woman” (from Broadway-Blues-Ballads)
“Four Women”
b/w “What More Can I Say”
“Don’t You Pay Them No Mind”
b/w “I’m Gonna Leave You”
1967 “Day and Night”
b/w “Do I Move You”
“You’ll Go To Hell”
b/w “It Be’s That Way Sometimes”
“I Wish I Knew”
b/w “Cherish”
1968 “To Love Somebody”
b/w “I Can’t See Nobody”
“Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)” — Part 1
b/w Part 2
“Ain’t Got No, I Got Life”
b/w “Real Real” (from Nina Simone Sings The Blues)
“Do What You Gotta Do”
b/w “Peace Of Mind”
1969 “I Put A Spell On You”
b/w “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (from Broadway-Blues-Ballads)
Reissue
“Revolution” — Part 1
b/w Part 2
“Suzanne”
b/w “Turn Turn Turn”
“To Be Young, Gifted and Black”
b/w “Save Me” (Non-album track)
1970 “I Loves You Porgy”
b/w “My Baby Just Cares For Me”
A-side reissue of 1959 recording
“Who Knows Where The Time Goes”
b/w “Assignment Song”
“Whatever I Am”
b/w “Why Must Your Love Well Be So Dry”
1971 “O-O-H Child”
b/w “New World Coming”
“Here Comes The Sun”
b/w “Angel Of The Morning”
1973 “Anytime, Anywhere”
b/w “Sunday In Savannah”
“No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”
b/w “The Assignment Song”
“My Sweet Lord”/”Today Is A Killer”
b/w “Poppies”
1978 “Baltimore”
b/w “Forget”
1979 “The Family”
b/w “That’s All I Want From You”
1987 “My Baby Just Cares For Me”
b/w “Little Girl Blue”
Original 1958/1959 recordings
1994 “Feeling Good” (Original 1965 recording)
b/w “My Baby Just Cares For Me” (live, non-album track)
2003 “Sinnerman”
CD single with four different versions

 

 

 

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