You will never be as cool as Nina Simone.
No one, ever will EVER be as cool as Nina Simone. Not Eartha, not Ella, not you, not me, not Coltrane, not Miles, not Beethoven, not Bach, not Johnny Rotten, not Santa Claus, Elvis or James freaking Dean. No one.
In fact I might as well just quit writing the Friday Fierceness because that’s it. There is no one more fierce than Little Girl Blue.
Nina Simone, born in North Carolina in 1933 as Eunice Kathleen Waymon, studied classical piano and gave her first concert performance at 12. The organizers wanted to put her parents in the back –where the black people sat– and she refused to play. When her parents were moved up, she began her concert, thus embarking on a life full of civil rights work, which includes writing one of the great protest songs of all time, Mississippi Goddam (click to listen)
She left the United States in 1970, moved to Barbados (where she had a long affair with the Prime Minister) and bounced around Europe before settling in France where she resided until her death in 2003.
I highly suggest her entire discography, but if you’re new to her work let me suggest “Nina Simone’s Finest Hour” and “Nina Simone at Newport“, the latter featuring an incredible classic treatment of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” (click to listen)
On Her Beginnings as a popular artist:
“I only knew classical music, which to me was the only true music. The only way I could survive at the bar was to mix the classical music with popular songs, and that meant I had to sing. What happened was that I discovered I had a voice plus the talent to mix classical music together with more popular songs, which at the time I detested.”
Who else in the WORLD could pull off a Cleopatra head scarf and make it look so natural? This is the definition of regal, AND she knew her mind.
“I think if I were over there in America, protest music would be more important. But I’m not going“
gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.
“This may be a dream, but I’ll say it anyway: I was supposed to be married last year, and I bought a gown. When I meet Nelson Mandela, I shall put on this gown and have the train of it removed and put aside, and kiss the ground that he walks on and then kiss his feet. “
“The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough. “
“To most white people, jazz means black and jazz means dirt, and that’s not what I play. I play black classical music. “
For further listening (streaming courtesy of goear.com)