Nina Simone was one of the most powerful singers of not only her time, but of all time. Her music made people think, change and copy. In her music, she made contributions to the civil rights movement. She used and touched so many genres of music from Jazz all the way to modern day rap She had influenced countless artists and passed without any acknowledgment or fanfare deserving of such an amazing arust. Eunice Kathleen waymon was born February 21, 1933, In Tyron North Carolina.
She was an especially brilliant and talented child. Eunice picked up music very easily and even as a small child after hearing a hymn only once could sing it perfectly. She was able to play plano by ear at age two and a half. she was the regular planlst every Sunday at church by age five. at this age she was compared to Mozart. After seeing the talent in such a young child an older German lady, Muriel Massinovitch offered to teach young Eunice. Mrs. Masslnovltch, fearrd her pupil would soon surpass her as by age eight she could decipher musical scores, read and write music.
Eunice awoke even more with the classical composer, such as Bach,” Bach made me dedicate my ite to music”. Eunice had her first brush with segregation at an early age ot twelve. Mrs Massinovitch was so proud of her talents she organized a recital to show of Eunice talents. Her parents very proudly sat in the first row; however, before the recital started a white couple approached them for their seats. As was the law back then the Waymon’s got up to move, at that point Eunice stated in front of everyone she would not play If they were made to move.
The white couple sat elsewhere and her parents visibly embarrassed took their seats and watched Eunice play.. After this Eunice would say later looking back, “All of the sudden it seemed a dfferent world graduating In 1950 at the top of her class applied to the Curtis Institute. She received a letter in 1954 stating that they had rejected her. There is speculation that it was because she was a women and because she was a black woman. whatever the reason an all white male jury had rejected Eunice this plagued her through her life.. Eunice changed her name to Nina Simone after playing a club in Philadelphia in1954. he got the Job to play plano her true love and was told by the manager she would ing or be out of a job thus her stage persona was borm She took the name Nina meaning “little one” she said was nickname from a former lover and Simone for Simone Slgnoret In casque d’Or. Nina married her manager Andy Stroud In 1901 and gave birth to daughter Lisa in 1962 She worked hard to support her family and endured abuse from her husband. Stroud controlled every aspect of Nina’s life and career. She was hospitalized several times tor exhaustion.
Andy told her that too many people relied on her so she couldn’t take a break and wouldnt even allow her to breast feed their daughter. It Is suspected that Nina had begun to have a mental Imoalance or a m Olsoraer around IYO/ out tnls was not connrmea. Nlna’s songs were classified as Jazz, blues, gospel and even later r&b. All she has ever wanted to do was play classical piano and consider any other music as inferior. Nina got involved in the civil rights movement and her songs became anthems for not only the civil right movement but for the emerging feminist movement.
Her song “Mississippi Goddam” was written after she heard about four black girls that were killed going to church by a bomb in Alabama. The songs lyrics are “Alabama’s got me so upset. Tennessee made me lose my rest. / But everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam/ Hound dogs on my trail/ schoolchildren sitting in Jail/ Black cat across my path/ I think every day ‘s going to be my last. ” The last lines are mfou don’t have to live next to me/Just give me my equality. ” Most radio stations refuse to play the song.
The song sold well except in the south where it was boycotted and censored. Some retailers return the record to the distributors after breaking each record in two. Although most of Nina’s music chronicles the fight for equal rights and racial njustice her song “Four Women”, not only spoke to the civil right movement but to feminist groups fighting for equal right for women. The song talks about one daughter being born out of a rape of a slave and many black stations banned the song. They considered the song,” an insult to black women. Nina made sure to continue to fight for both causes not only in her music but she also cancelled tour dates to participate in protest concerts with many others most notably Langston Hughes who became one of Nina’s best friends. Nina’s music draws from spirituals, blues, folk, classical and even some traditional music. Many of her songs have been redone and made popular by other artist for example “House of the Rising Sun” this bothered her as she felt people didn’t know where the songs came from. Although Nin’s instrument was a piano she felt that her voice was the only “pure instrument”.
Many of her songs may have appeared to be filled with anger but many of her songs just have soul and no anger for example “l Hold No Grudge” The words are, “l hold no grudge/ There is no resentment und’neath/l’ll extend the laurel wreath and we’ll be friends. ” Brooks also calls Simone “the cultural arm of the civil rights” Nina Simone assed away April 21, 2003 in a small village in the south of France. “Her death didn’t cause much stir in the media European or American. It was said merely that a bad tempered but successful diva from the world of Jazz had passed away.
That was about it” “On May 18th 2003 the Curtis Institute of music posthumously awarded Nina an honorary diploma for her contribution to the art of music. ” Nina was aware of the schools plan before her death but her family accepted the honor for her. It almost seems like at long last Simone achieved her ultimate goal. To see what kind of mpact Nina Simone had on the world you need only look at todays popular artist from Norah Jones, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and even Marilyn Manson, “claim her as an influence. Her songs have been rerecorded over and over many people are fans and don’t even know they are listening toa Nina Simone song. To have such a huge impact on such wide variety of artists is outstanding and hard pressed to match. I have long been a fan of Nina Simone. I myself used to be one of those saying,”Oh this is a song of Nina Simone. ” upon hearing the song in a movie of a soundtrack. I began istening to her music and realized how unbelieving moving it is. Her songs and make you angry and then relax you in the next verse.