Happy birthday Nina Simone!
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), Nina Simone was an American singer who enjoyed success in several genres of music, including jazz, blues, folk, and R&B music. Simone attended Juilliard and intended to pursue a career as a classical pianist, but changed paths when she was turned away from the Curtis Institute of Music. She began performing in clubs, singing American standards, jazz, and blues, and adopted her stage name Nina Simone, after the actress Simone Signoret. Her most popular songs include "I Put A Spell on You", "Lilac Wine", "Feelin' Good", and "Sinnerman". Simone became known as the "High Priestess of Soul".
Simone's first album was Little Girl Blue, released in 1958. It featured the songs "Plain Gold Ring", "Little Girl Blue" and her version of "I Love Porgy" from the musical Porgy and Bess. She quickly established herself as a passionate defender of civil rights, and wrote "Mississippi Goddam" after the the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers and the Birmingham church bombing in which four young African-American girls were killed. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Simone wrote "Why (The King of Love Is Dead) and "Young, Gifted and Black".
Deeply dissatisfied with the racial politics and discrimination of the United States, Simone lived in several countries over the next few years, and covered popular songs like Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." Simone is still remembered for her incredible musical versatility, and has been noted as an inspiration for performers including Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Janis Joplin, and many others.
Nina Simone and her daughter Lisa
In the late 80s, Simone's career was revived when her song "My Baby Just Cares For Me " became a Top 10 hit in England. In 1992, she settled in France and released her autobiography, I Put A Spell on You. In 1993, she released A Single Woman, and continued to perform and tour. In 1998, Simone was in attendance at Nelson Mandela's 80th birthday celebration.
Nina Simone died in her home in France on April 21, 2003. Her fungeral was attended by singers Miriam Makeba and Patti Labelle, and hundreds more. A biographical film based on her life is set to be released some time in 2013. Simone was inducted into the North Carolina Hall of Fame in 2009.
- Birthday Date: Friday, 21 February 2014