Before Beyonce: Nina Simone

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Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist. Although she disliked being categorized, Simone is most associated with jazz music. Simone originally aspired to become a classical pianist, but her work covers an eclectic variety of musical styles that include classical, jazz, blues, soul, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. Her vocal style is characterized by intense passion, a loose vibrato, and a slightly androgynous timbre, in part due to her unusually low vocal range which veered between the alto and tenor ranges (occasionally even reaching baritone lows). Also known as The High Priestess of Soul, she paid great attention to the musical expression of emotions. Within one album or concert she could fluctuate between exuberant happiness and tragic melancholy. These fluctuations also characterized her own personality and personal life, amplified by bipolar disorder with which she was diagnosed in the mid-1960s, something not widely known until after her death in 2003, though she wrote of it openly in her autobiography published in 1992. According to Nadine Cohodas, Simone's biographer, Ms. Simone was first diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and later with schizophrenia.

Simone recorded over 40 live and studio albums, the greatest body of her work released between 1958 (when she made her debut with (Little Girl Blue) and 1974. Her most well known songs include "My Baby Just Cares for Me", "I Put a Spell on You", "Four Women", "I Loves You Porgy", "Feeling Good", "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "Sinnerman", "To Be Young, Gifted and Black", "Mississippi Goddam", "Ain't Got No, I Got Life," "I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl", and "Love Me or Leave Me".

Her music and message made a strong and lasting impact on culture, illustrated by the numerous contemporary artists who cite her as an important influence. Several hip hop musicians and other modern artists sample and remix Simone's rhythms and beats on their tracks. In particular, Talib Kweli and Mos Def routinely pay tribute to her outstanding and soulful musical style. Many of her songs are featured on motion picture soundtracks, as well as in video games, commercials, and TV series.

I Ain't Got No...I Got Life


I Wish I Knew How It Feels to be Free

18 Thought(s) :

JStar at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

Great tribute to such a talented woman!

Moanerplicity at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

Unique. Expressive. Visceral. Raw. Gifted. Queenly. Authentic. Stately. Opinionated. Angry. Sensual. Enigmatic. Beautiful. Revolutionary. Woman. Nina.

If Nina Simone never existed, we would have had to INVENT her!


One.

Traci Lavette at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

This was beautiful! I love hearing about more of US and how we impacted the world, in various ways.

Jason at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

@JStar
Talented is really an understatement when it comes to this woman!

Jason at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

@MP
Brotha Pen you always know how to express something perfectly! If I could hire you as a translator of emotions, you'd be on the payroll bruh!

"If Nina Simone never existed, we would have had to INVENT her!"

This is all that needs to be said, really.

Jason at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

@Traci
The two songs I posted just scratch the surface of just how important Nina Simone was. People know who she is, but she should be appreciated much more in my opinion.

JStar at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

I totally agree Jason

Val at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

Her mental illness reminds me of one of my favorite singers, Phyllis Hyman, who suffered as well. I def want to read Nina's biography.

Thanks for the info, Jason.

Jason at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

I am planning a post about Phyllis Hyman in the near future. I've read the biography, it's really informative and sad but it helps in understanding the brilliance and madness that went on Dr. Simone's head.

You're welcome Val!

khaki la'docker at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

Great post! I love reading about artists that arent spoken of often. Anyway, I heard Mary J was playing her in a biopic. Im going to look up what happened to it. I wouldve totally went to see it.

Mizrepresent at: Tuesday, 02 November, 2010 said...

Loved this...one of my favorite songs of hers was 4 Women...i used to perform to it all the time, enjoying the moodiness, sadness and fierceness of this woman's music. Thanks for this!

Dee O. at: Wednesday, 03 November, 2010 said...

YES YES YES YES YES!!! Amazing post, Nina Simone is such a talent. I absolutely love her music...he rendition of The Look of Love always gives me goosebumps! :)

That GOOD GOOD Blog

Jason at: Wednesday, 03 November, 2010 said...

@Khaki
I can't picture Mary J. as Nina Simone but she may own the role. I haven't heard anything about the movie lately. Nina life deserves a movie, she was an interesting lady.

Thanks for dropping by Khaki!

Jason at: Wednesday, 03 November, 2010 said...

@Miz
Four Women is an undeniable classic and it still give me chills when I hear it, along with Sinnerman, her rendition of Strange Fruit and Images.

You're Welcome Miz!

Jason at: Wednesday, 03 November, 2010 said...

@Dee
You're absolutely right! Nina was the ish!

Poppy at: Tuesday, 16 November, 2010 said...

I love her so much, when people discuss great music I'm always like "what about Nina?" lol

Did you write that? It is amazingly well written :-)

Jason at: Sunday, 21 November, 2010 said...

@Poppy
I love her so much too! She definitely should be apart of the music legend discussion.

Anonymous at: Sunday, 19 December, 2010 said...

What a great resource!

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