Nina Simone was one of the outstanding female artists from the twentieth century of Blues, Jazz, Soul, Gospel, and other genres. She was born in Tryon, North Carolina, United States of America, on February 21st, 1933, under the name of Eunice Kathleen Waymon. She was the sixth of eight children. Her mother, Mary Kate Waymon, was a Methodist minister, and her dad was John Devan Waymon, a handyman and preacher. She died at her home located in the South of France on April 21st, 2003.
5 things to learn from Nina
1- Her childhood was marked by the “Jim Crow” laws. During the debut of one of her classical recital concerts, she refused to play because her parents who were sitting in the front seat were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. She played until her parents were relocated.
2- Even though she was famous, she was not silent to denounce and describe her circle of gender-based- violence.
3- She was proud of her black identity, which she describes in many of her lyrics. The objective of these songs was to shape people’s minds not to be ashamed of their roots.
4- From the first to the last shot in the documentary, Nina Simone was a queen of fashion. She was always put together with colourful clothes, makeup, shoes, bags, hats etc.
5-We all need to let go and be free. Nina did it by abandoning her career and family when she moved to Liberia, Africa. She got a lot of criticisms, but she responded that it was the happiest moment of her life. In an interview, she said: ” Freedom for me is no fear”.
Anytime I watch her concerts, I am amazed to see the way she performs. She was very engaging with her audience, charismatic, she enjoyed being on stage, her body movements and passion while singing said it all.
One of my favourite songs by Nina is Feeling good from her album I Put a Spell on You (1965):
Fish in the sea, you know how I feel
River running free, you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree, you know how I feelil
And I’m feeling good.
So don’t be silent, sing your song loud and proud, just as Nina did, but also add your part.