Nina Simone has one of the most distinct and captivating voices in music. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in 1935 in Tryon, North Carolina, she always had an active interest in music, playing the piano by ear at three years old. At age seven, her mother’s employer paid for her to take formal piano lessons.
Nina’s family could not afford to send her to college, but with the help and financial support of people who wanted to see this talented young woman succeed, she was able to attend Julliard School of Music in New York City where she majored in piano and theory.
In the 1950’s Eunice changed her name to Nina Simone. She began singing blues in nightclubs in Atlantic City to support herself. Nina had a low, sultry and husky voice that entranced the nightclub set. She received her first major success with a recording of “I Love You Porgy” from the opera Porgy and Bess in 1957. Soon Nina was touring the United States and Europe -- where she was well received and resides today.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Nina’s music took on a militant edge. She sang against the evils of racism and was not afraid to confront the most volatile of social issues with her music. “Some of her songs were inspired by black poets. She put to music the words of Langston Hughes (“The Backlash Blues”), Lorraine Hansberry (“To Be Young , Gifted and Black”) and Paul Lawrence Dunbar (“Compensation”).” (Pg. 58 Great Women in the Struggle). Nina was also a talented song writer who wrote songs with deep social significance as well as sultry blues (“Sugar in My Bowl”). She sang jazz and blues standards with a style of her own. Her renditions of “Since I Fell For You” and “In the Dark” are a must hear for any jazz and/or blues enthusiasts.
I HIGHLY recommend the following recording “THE BLUES” (released in 1991). This is a compilation of Nina singing the blues at its best:
1. Do I Move You
2. Day and Night
3. In the Dark
4. Real Real
5. My Man’s Gone Now
6. Backlash Blues
7. I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl
9. Since I Feel For You
10. House Of The Rising Sun, The
11. Blues For Mama
12. Pusher, The
13. Turn Me On
14. Nobody's Fault But Mine
15. Go To Hell
16. I Shall Be Released
17. Gin House Blues