Happy Birthday Nina Simone

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Nina Simone “See Line Woman”

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Singer/songwriter Nina Simone was classically trained. She dreamt of becoming a concert pianist. But it wasn’t long before she moved from the concert hall to the jazz club. And boy I’m glad she did.

Nina Simone’s smoldering voice set fire to everything she sang. An intense, passionate woman, she commanded respect. Was known to walk off stage if her audience didn’t keep quiet. And she channeled all that fire and intensity into her music.

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In Nina’s hands a soft gospel number becomes an epic, rollicking apocalypse.

Listen to what she does with a children’s hand-clapping game. Here’s what she heard - And here’s what she did with it. Nina Simone and “See Line Woman.”

Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933. A singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger and civil rights activist, Simone was born in North Caroline, the daughter of a preacher. She aspired to be a classical pianist, but was rejected from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. The rejection forced her to take a job at a small club, playing jazz, which she called the classical music of the African American people. She was discovered by Bethlehem records—and went on to record over 40 albums.

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Her music remained inflected with her classical influences, while picking up new inspiration from reggae, gospel and pop. In the 60’s Simone became a civil rights activist, penning a number of seminal songs for the movement. A powerful civil rights message became standard in her concert repertoire.

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Nina had a reputation for volatility—walking off stage, firing a gun at a record exec. As late as 1995 she was arrested for firing a pneumatic pistol at a neighbor’s son who had disturbed her concentration. Nina died on April 21, 2003.