Nina Simone

American singer-songwriter (1933–2003) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone (/ˌnnə sɪˈmn/),[1] was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned styles including classical, folk, gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, and pop.

Quick facts: Nina Simone, Background information, Birth na...
Nina Simone
Simone in 1965
Simone in 1965
Background information
Birth nameEunice Kathleen Waymon
Born(1933-02-21)February 21, 1933
Tryon, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedApril 21, 2003(2003-04-21) (aged 70)
Carry-le-Rouet, France
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • pianist
  • composer
  • activist
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active1954–2002
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The sixth of eight children born from a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist.[2] With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.[3] She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where, despite a well received audition, she was denied admission,[4] which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.[5]

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to "Nina Simone" to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play "the devil's music"[4] or so-called "cocktail piano". She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist.[6] She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with "I Loves You, Porgy".[2] Her piano playing was strongly influenced by baroque and classical music, especially Johann Sebastian Bach,[7] and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.[8][9]