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The Friday Fierceness: Miss Nina Simone | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Friday Fierceness: Miss Nina Simone

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)

Nina Simone, that profile

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.”

Nina Simone makes it work

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

Nina Simone in a lamè turban. The accent is everything

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.


Nina Simone, don’t smoke, but if you. Do it like this.

“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.


Nina Simone: Young, Black and Talented

“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)





11 Responses to “The Friday Fierceness: Miss Nina Simone”

  1. Twistie June 5, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    Nina Simone is the very definition of awesome.

    Also, I envy her ability to wear a Cleopatra headscarf without inciting giggles. I would totally do that if I had one iota of a chance to do it without looking utterly ridiculous.

  2. Margo June 5, 2009 at 7:45 pm #

    I approve of this post with every atom in my body, and any extra at hand. Nina is, simply. the greatest. I have something like 19 of her albums. I still remember the day she dies; when I heard the news, I went in mourning (I was at Uni, so staying in bed listening to sad music and wearing black could all be easily factored into my lifestyle.)

    Brilliant stuff, just what I needed after quite the hellacious week. As usual, MftBG helps make everything shine brighter.

  3. ladymissm June 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    I saw Nina Simone in Hotlanta the year before she died. She was a little fragile, but had lost none of her regal bearing and put on a helluva show.

  4. Ansa June 6, 2009 at 12:20 am #

    I have loved Nina Simone for years. Her voice is haunting. And I love a woman who isn’t afriad to speak “her” truth.

  5. Miranda June 6, 2009 at 1:28 am #

    PREACH.

  6. Jennie June 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    Thank you! I had not heard her before. Now I can’t stop listening…. This is why I love you ladies (and Mr. Henry).

  7. raincoaster June 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

    Nina Simone was arrested at the age of 85 outside of Paris. Apparently someone had rear-ended her car and she got out and beat them up.

  8. Leslie June 6, 2009 at 11:38 pm #

    Her voice… oooh. Nothing like it. I learned to drive listening to her… Mood Indigo… Sinnerman…

  9. angela June 8, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    DAMN but Nina Simone was just indefatigably astounding.

    She did an album of 60’s – 70’s covers; believe it or not, Nina singing “To Love Somebody” gives me goosebumps.

  10. Evie June 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Fabulous post, Plummie. Nina Simone is the very definition of presence.

  11. Nova Sensel May 13, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    Thank you for sharing the info. I found the details very helpful.