6 Reasons New Generations Must Listen to Nina Simone
1. During the Civil Rights Movement, she wrote songs that expressed the anger, grief, and hope of black people.
My personal favorites are To Be Young, Gifted and Black and Revolution (Parts 1 and 2). To Be Young Gifted and Black was an anthem of the civil rights movement, but I consider it a personal anthem for myself now. Revolution is a fantastic musical representation of the defiance and chaos going on at the time.
2. “Four Women” is a song that black women of all shades and ages can connect to either personally or emotionally.
When I first heard this song, I was entranced by Simone’s voice and the raw lyrics. The song plays out like a stage performance, with Simone singing different parts. By the end of the song, Simone’s voice had me stunned.
3. She was an eclectic artist that was hard to pin down.
She sang the blues and gospel, fused jazz and pop with classical, and even had one song with reggae influences. One of the first Nina Simone songs that I enjoyed was “Love Me or Leave Me“. Her piano playing was a pleasant surprise, especially when she switched from jazz to classical and then back. Another favorite of mine is “Little Girl Blue“. I love Janis Joplin’s version, but Simone’s version is beautiful and soothing.
4. She had great live performances where she improvised on piano and looked like a queen.
5. She has influenced rap, pop, and R&B musicians such as Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Talib Kweli, and Lauryn Hill.
6. She was a hardworking, outspoken, talented, and resilient spirit.
Very recently, I finished reading Simone’s autobiography I Put A Spell on You. It is a tale of how she endured racism, physical and emotional abuse, alienation, and bi-polar disorder (which she wasn’t diagnosed for until after the events of the book). She endured all this and made music that moved people and inspired them to action. For that, she is amazing.