Sunday, February 8, 2015

BHM: Nina Simone

'To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world.
Black people.
And I mean that in every sense.
Outside and inside.
And to me we have a culture that is surpassed by no other civilization but we don’t know anything about it. 
My job is to somehow make them curious enough to get more aware of themselves and where they came from.
This is what compels me to compel them and I will do it by whatever means necessary'

Nina Simone sang a mix of jazz, blues and folk music in the 1950s and '60s. In her illustrious career she composed over 500 songs, recorded almost 60 albums. She was the first woman to win the Jazz Cultural Award, won "Woman of the Year" 1966, Jazz at Home Club, and was named Female Jazz Singer of the Year, 1967, by the National Association of Television.

 Born on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina, Nina Simone received a scholarship to study classical piano at the Juilliard School in New York City, but left early when she ran out of money. She turned her interest to jazz, blues and folk music and released her first album in 1958.

A civil rights activist, she wrote songs promoting the Civil Rights Movement. By the mid-1960s, Simone became known as the voice of the civil rights movement. She wrote "Mississippi Goddam" in response to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young African-American girls. After the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Simone penned "Why (The King of Love Is Dead)." She also wrote "Young, Gifted and Black," borrowing the title of a play by Hansberry, which became a popular anthem at the time.

As the 1960s drew to a close, Simone tired of the American music scene and the country's deeply divided racial politics. She lived in several different countries, including Liberia, Switzerland, England and Barbados before eventually settling down in the South of France. She died in France on April 21, 2003.



  1. Definitely underrated used to play her albums all the time. Young gifted and black and her rendition of Mr. Bojangles some of my favorites.

    1. A true legend. Thanks for commenting! Share this with a friend.