Nina Simone is one of our must unappreciated and undervalued Blues voices. Evidence of such is found in the lack of instant recognition when you invoke her name and in the fact that her ovaric album of 50 songs and a video found in — “The Definitive Rarities Collection” — is currently selling for an incredibly cheap $7.99USD in the American iTunes store. That’s less than 15-cents per song!
Nina Simone was a child prodigy. She was playing the piano at age four and getting paid for performing at age 10. She quickly became the human voice of Racial tension in the South during the 1960s.
Cat Stevens — aka Yusuf Islam — said in a television interview he became a musician because of Nina and he only knew her through song. He heard her singing on the radio and thought the deep voice belonged to a man. When he learned more about that voice, and found out he was actually listening to Nina Simone, he knew she was a magical touchstone for him forever.
Here is Nina in a 1960 performance of “I loves Your Porgy” and you can feel, taste, smell and know the definition of human suffering in her performance:
It is our duty to not only remember Nina Simone, but to know her work as well and to teach others about her.
We have a moral obligation to keep her talent and her suffering in the front of our minds — for turning our backs on Nina Simone as we have — is to refuse to recognize the stream of blood and bondage she describes in every moment of her melodies.