Print Cite verified Cite. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Facebook Twitter. Give Feedback External Websites. She left the country in Travelling to Liberia with her twelve-year-old daughter, she stayed for two years, during which she performed hardly at all.
She left Liberia for Switzerland in order to put her daughter in school there. Eventually, she moved to France, alone. The remainder of her life, some twenty-five years, is a tale of escalating misery. Yet the ups of her life could be almost as vertiginous as the downs.
Rereleased, the record went gold in France and platinum in England. In , she sold out the Olympia, in Paris, for almost a week. She toured widely during her final years. In Seattle, in the summer of , she worked a tirade against George W.
The most indelible image of her near the end is as a stooped old lady reacting to the enthusiastic cheers that greeted her with a raised, closed-fisted Black Power salute. The rap connection with Simone is hardly surprising, since rap is where black anger now openly resides. As for jazz, Simone was largely excluded from the history books for decades. The question of skin tone and hair and their meaning for African-American women exploded on the Internet with the announcement of the casting of Saldana in the Hollywood bio-pic about Simone.
When the idea for such a film was initially floated, in the early nineties, Simone herself gave the nod to being played by Whoopi Goldberg. When, in , the present film was announced in the Hollywood Reporter , Mary J. Blige—the reigning Queen of Hip-Hop Soul—was announced for the lead. Why not cast Viola Davis? Or Jennifer Hudson?
Production photographs showing Saldana on the set with an artificially broadened nose, an Afro wig, and—inevitably, but most unfortunately—dark makeup that is all too easily confoundable with blackface rendered any hope of calm discussion futile. Still, there is no escaping the fact that her casting represents exactly the sort of prejudice that Simone was always up against. She was sixty-five years old, and photographs of the event show her standing between Mandela and Jackson, overweight yet glamorously done up, her hair piled in braids and her strapless white blouse a contrast to the African costumes of the chorus all around.
Her concert debut, a classical recital, was given when she was Simone later said that during this performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people.
Her father, Rev. John Devan Waymon June 24, — October 23, ,  was a handyman who at one time owned a dry-cleaning business, but also suffered bouts of ill health. Simone's music teacher helped establish a special fund to pay for her education. After her graduation, Simone spent the summer of at the Juilliard School as a student of Carl Friedberg ,  preparing for an audition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
Her application, however, was denied. Only 3 of 72 applicants were accepted that year,  but as her family had relocated to Philadelphia in the expectation of her entry to Curtis, the blow to her aspirations was particularly heavy. For the rest of her life, she suspected that her application had been denied because of racial prejudice.
Discouraged, she took private piano lessons with Vladimir Sokoloff , a professor at Curtis, but never could re-apply due to the fact that at the time the Curtis institute did not accept students over She took a job as a photographer's assistant, but also found work as an accompanist at Arlene Smith 's vocal studio and taught piano from her home in Philadelphia. In , she adopted the stage name "Nina Simone". Simone's mixture of jazz, blues , and classical music in her performances at the bar earned her a small but loyal fan base.
In , she befriended and married Don Ross, a beatnik who worked as a fairground barker , but quickly regretted their marriage. After the success of Little Girl Blue , Simone signed a contract with Colpix Records and recorded a multitude of studio and live albums. Colpix relinquished all creative control to her, including the choice of material that would be recorded, in exchange for her signing the contract with them.
She kept this attitude toward the record industry for most of her career. In few years he became her manager and the father of her daughter Lisa , but later he abused Simone psychologically and physically.
In , Simone changed record distributors from Colpix, an American company, to the Dutch Philips Records , which meant a change in the content of her recordings. On her debut album for Philips, Nina Simone in Concert , for the first time she addressed racial inequality in the United States in the song " Mississippi Goddam ".
This was her response to the June 12, , murder of Medgar Evers and the September 15, , bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young black girls and partly blinded a fifth. She said that the song was "like throwing ten bullets back at them", becoming one of many other protest songs written by Simone.
The song was released as a single, and it was boycotted in some [ vague ] southern states. The song challenged the belief that race relations could change gradually and called for more immediate developments: "me and my people are just about due".
It was a key moment in her path to Civil Rights activism. After "Mississippi Goddam", a civil rights message was the norm in Simone's recordings and became part of her concerts. As her political activism rose, the rate of release of her music slowed. Simone performed and spoke at civil rights meetings, such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches. The album 'Nuff Said! She dedicated the performance to him and sang "Why?
She credited her friend Hansberry with cultivating her social and political consciousness. She performed the song live on the album Black Gold A studio recording was released as a single, and renditions of the song have been recorded by Aretha Franklin on her album Young, Gifted and Black and Donny Hathaway. In an interview for Jet magazine, Simone stated that her controversial song "Mississippi Goddam" harmed her career.
She claimed that the music industry punished her by boycotting her records. However, Stroud interpreted Simone's sudden disappearance, and the fact that she had left behind her wedding ring, as an indication of her desire for a divorce.
As her manager, Stroud was in charge of Simone's income. When Simone returned to the United States, she learned that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for unpaid taxes unpaid as a protest against her country's involvement with the Vietnam War , and returned to Barbados to evade the authorities and prosecution.
When Simone relocated, she abandoned her daughter Lisa in Mount Vernon. The result was the album Baltimore , which, while not a commercial success, was fairly well received critically and marked a quiet artistic renaissance in Simone's recording output. Although her early on-stage style could be somewhat haughty and aloof, in later years, Simone particularly seemed to enjoy engaging with her audiences sometimes, by recounting humorous anecdotes related to her career and music and by soliciting requests.
She lived in Liberia, Barbados and Switzerland and eventually ended up in Paris. There she regularly performed in a small jazz club called Aux Trois Mailletz for relatively small financial reward. The performances were sometimes brilliant and at other times Nina Simone gave up after fifteen minutes. Often she was too drunk to sing or play the piano properly. Other times she scolded the audience. The end of Nina Simone seemed in sight.
Nina Simone moved to Nijmegen in the Netherlands in the spring of A song that she recorded for the first time in was used in a commercial for Chanel No. This led to a re-release of the recording, which stormed to number 4 on UK's NME singles chart, giving her a brief surge in popularity in the UK and elsewhere. In she bought an apartment next to the Belvoir Hotel with view on the Waalbrug and Ooijpolder, with the help of her friend Gerrit de Bruin, who lived with his family a few corners away, and kept an eye on her.
The idea was to bring Nina Simone to Nijmegen to relax and get back on track. Simone's live performances gave her more room to show off her classical piano influences, and her albums for Colpix reflected an intelligent taste in standards, pop songs, and supper club blues, and while she didn't enjoy another American hit on the level of "I Loves You Porgy," her recordings of "Trouble in Mind" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" both entered the pop charts as singles.
In , Simone left Colpix to sign a new deal with Philips , and the move coincided with a shift in the themes of her music.
While always conscious of the ongoing struggle for civil rights, Simone often avoided explicit political messages in her material; as she later wrote, "How can you take the memory of a man like Medgar Evers and reduce all that he was to three-and-a-half minutes and a simple tune? Simone also enjoyed a British hit single in with "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," and while the record didn't fare as well in the United States, a year later the Animals would take the song to the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
In , after recording seven albums for Philips , Simone struck a new deal with RCA Records , and while her first album for her new label, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, was a straightforward collection of blues standards, her subsequent work for RCA found Simone focusing on contemporary pop, rock, and soul material, much of which dealt with topical themes and progressive philosophies 's To Love Somebody featured no fewer than three Bob Dylan tunes.
Simone's exile was prompted by her increasing disillusionment with American politics, as well as her refusal to pay income taxes as a protest against U. In , Simone released her last album for RCA , It Is Finished, and spent the next several years traveling the world and playing occasional concerts; she would not return to the recording studio until , when she recorded the album Baltimore at a studio in Belgium for Creed Taylor 's CTI label.
Nina Simone — 10 of the best. Nina Simone in Photograph: Getty Images. Jeremy Allen. Wed 2 Mar I Loves You, Porgy Few artists have thrived so spectacularly while being so disinclined towards the recording industry, but then few have been as talented as Nina Simone. Nina Simone: 'Are you ready to burn buildings?