Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nina Simone (1933 – 2003)

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone (/ˈniːnə sɨˈmoʊn/), was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
Born the sixth child of a preacher's family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist as a child. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black.She then began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her continuing musical education to become a classical pianist and was required to sing as well. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendition of "I Loves You Porgy" became a smash hit in the United States in 1958. Over the length of her career, Simone recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between 1958 — when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue — and 1974.
Her musical style arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with classical music, in particular with influences from her first inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied with her expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic low tenor. She injected as much of her classical background into her music as possible to give it more depth and quality, as she felt that pop music was inferior to classical.Her intuitive grasp on the audience-performer relationship was gained from a unique background of playing piano accompaniment for church revivals and sermons regularly from the early age of six years.
After 20 years of performing, she became involved in the civil rights movement and the direction of her life shifted once again Simone's music was highly influential in the fight for equal rights in the US.

Simone standards
Throughout her career, Simone assembled a collection of songs that would become standards in her repertoire. These songs were self-written tunes, tributes to works by others with a new arrangement by Simone, or songs written especially for Simone. Her first hit song in America was her rendition of George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy" (1958). It peaked at number 18 in the pop singles chart and number 2 on the black singles chart. During that same period Simone recorded "My Baby Just Cares for Me", which would become her biggest success years later, in 1987, when it was featured in a Chanel No. 5 perfume commercial. A music video was created by Aardman Studios for the commercial.
Well known songs from her Philips albums include "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" on Broadway-Blues-Ballads (1964), "I Put a Spell on You", "Ne Me Quitte Pas" (a rendition of a Jacques Brel song) and "Feeling Good" on I Put A Spell On You (1965), "Lilac Wine" and "Wild Is the Wind" on Wild is the Wind (1966). Especially the songs "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "Feeling Good", and "Sinnerman" (Pastel Blues, 1965) have great popularity today in terms of cover versions (most notably a version of the former song by The Animals), sample usage, and its use on soundtracks for various movies, TV-series, and video games. "Sinnerman", in particular, has been featured in the TV series Scrubs and Person of Interest, on movies such as The Thomas Crown Affair, Miami Vice, and Inland Empire, and sampled by artists such as Talib Kweli and Timbaland. The song "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" was sampled by Devo Springsteen on "Misunderstood" from Common's 2007 album Finding Forever, and by little-known producers Rodnae and Mousa for the song "Don't Get It" on Lil Wayne's 2008 album Tha Carter III. The song "See-Line Woman" was sampled by Kanye West for "Bad News" on his album 808s and Heartbreak.
Simone's years at RCA-Victor spawned a number of singles and album songs that were popular, particularly in Europe. In 1968, it was "Ain't Got No, I Got Life", a medley from the musical Hair from the album 'Nuff Said! (1968) that became a surprise hit for Simone, reaching number 4 on the UK pop charts and introducing her to a younger audience.[33] In 2006, it returned to the UK Top 30 in a remixed version by Groovefinder. The following single, the Bee Gees' rendition of "To Love Somebody" also reached the UK top 10 in 1969. "House of the Rising Sun" was featured on Nina Simone Sings The Blues in 1967, but Simone had recorded the song in 1961 and it was featured on Nina At The Village Gate (1962), predating the versions by Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan.It was later covered by The Animals, for whom it became a signature hit.
Performing style
Simone's bearing and stage presence earned her the title "High Priestess of Soul". She was a piano player, singer, and performer, "separately and simultaneously".. On stage, Simone moved from gospel to blues, jazz, and folk, to numbers with European classical styling, and Bach-style fugal counterpoint. She incorporated monologues and dialogues with the audience into the program, and often used silence as a musical element. Simone compared it to "mass hypnosis. I use it all the time". Throughout most of her life and recording career she was accompanied by percussionist Leopoldo Fleming and guitarist and musical director Al Schackman.
Simone had a reputation in the music industry for her volatility. In 1995, she shot and wounded her neighbor's son with a pneumatic pistol after his laughter disturbed her concentration. She also fired a gun at a record company executive whom she accused of stealing royalties. According to a biographer, Simone took medication for a condition from the mid-1960s on. All this was only known to a small group of intimates, and kept out of public view for many years, until the biography Break Down And Let It All Out written by Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan revealed this in 2004 after her death.

Musicians who have cited Simone as important for their own musical upbringing include Van Morrison, Christina Aguilera, Elkie Brooks, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Kanye West, Lena Horne, John Legend, Elizabeth Fraser, Cat Stevens, Peter Gabriel, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Mary J. Blige, Michael Gira, Angela McCluskey, Lauryn Hill, Patrice Babatunde, Alicia Keys, Ian MacKaye, Kerry Brothers, Jr. "Krucial", Amanda Palmer, and Jeff Buckley.John Lennon cited Simone's version of "I Put a Spell on You" as a source of inspiration for the Beatles song "Michelle". Musicians who have covered her work (or her specific renditions of songs) include Black Rock Coalition Orchestra, J.Viewz, Carola, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Marilyn Manson, Donny Hathaway, David Bowie, Elkie Brooks, Roberta Flack, Jeff Buckley, The Animals, Shivaree (band), Ambrosia Parsley, Muse, Cat Power, Katie Melua, Timbaland, Feist, Shara Worden, Common, Lil Wayne, and Michael Bublé. Simone's music has been featured in soundtracks of various motion pictures and video games, including but not limited to, The Big Lebowski (1998), Point of No Return (AKA The Assassin, 1993), Notting Hill (1999), Any Given Sunday (1999), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Six Feet Under (2001), The Dancer Upstairs (film) (2002), Before Sunset (2004), Cellular (2004), Inland Empire (2006), Sex and the City (2008), The World Unseen (2008), Revolutionary Road (2008), Watchmen (2009), The Saboteur (2009), Repo Men (2010). Frequently her music is used in remixes, commercials, and TV series.

1958Little Girl BlueStudioBethlehem Records
1959Nina Simone and Her FriendsStudio
The Amazing Nina SimoneStudioColpix Records
Nina Simone at Town HallLive and studio
1960Nina Simone at NewportLive23 (pop)
Forbidden FruitStudio
1962Nina at the Village GateLive
Nina Simone Sings EllingtonLive
1963Nina's ChoiceCompilation
Nina Simone at Carnegie HallLive
1964Folksy NinaLive
Nina Simone in ConcertLivePhilips Records102 (pop)
1965I Put a Spell on YouStudio99 (pop)
Pastel BluesStudio8 (black)
1966Nina Simone with StringsStudio (strings added)Colpix
Let It All OutLive and studioPhilips19 (black)
Wild Is the WindStudio12 (black)
1967High Priestess of SoulStudio29 (black)
Nina Simone Sings the BluesStudioRCA Records29 (black)
Silk & SoulStudio24 (black)
1968Nuff SaidLive and studio44 (black)
1969Nina Simone and PianoStudio
To Love SomebodyStudio
A Very Rare EveningLivePM Records
1970Black GoldLiveRCA Records29 (black)
1971Here Comes the SunStudioRCA Records190 (pop)
Gifted & BlackStudioCanyon Records
1972Emergency WardLive and studioRCA Records
1973Live at BerkeleyLiveStroud
Gospel According to Nina SimoneLiveStroud
1974It Is FinishedLiveRCA Records
Sings Billie HolidayLiveStroud
1978BaltimoreStudioCTI Records12 (jazz)
1980The Rising Sun CollectionLiveEnja
1982Fodder on My WingsStudioCarrere
1985Nina's BackStudioVPI
1985Live & KickinLive
1987Let It Be MeLiveVerve
Live at Ronnie Scott'sLiveHendring-Wadham
The Nina Simone CollectionCompilationDeja Vu
1993A Single WomanStudioElektra Records3 (top jazz)
Additional releases
1975The Great Show Live in ParisLiveRCA?
1997ReleasedCompilationRCA Victor Europe
2003GoldStudio remasteredUniversal/UCJ
AnthologyCompilation (from many labels)RCA/BMG Heritage
2004Nina Simone's Finest HourCompilationVerve/Universal
2005The Soul of Nina SimoneCompilation + DVDRCA DualDisc
Nina Simone Live at Montreux 1976DVD onlyEagle Eye Media
2006The Very Best of Nina SimoneCompilationSony BMG
Remixed and ReimaginedRemixLegacy/SBMG5 (contemp.jazz)
Songs to Sing: the Best of Nina SimoneCompilation/Live CompilationDeluxe
Forever Young, Gifted, & Black: Songs of Freedom and SpiritRemixRCA
2008To Be Free: The Nina Simone StoryCompilationSony Legacy
2009The Definitive Rarities Collection - 50 Classic CutsCompilationArtwork Media
?Nina Simone Live
DVD only: Studio 1961 & '62Kultur/Creative Arts Television


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