Nina Simone – I Shall Be Released
Nina Simone /’ni?n? s?’mo?n/ (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music. She worked in a broad range of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
The sixth child of a preacher’s family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. 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 said she later found out from an insider at Curtis that she was denied entry because she was black. So as to fund her continuing musical education and become a classical pianist, she began playing in a small club in Philadelphia where she was also required to sing. She was approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and her rendering of “I Loves You, Porgy” was a 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 contralto voice. 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 old.
In the early 1960s, 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 United States.In later years, she lived abroad, finally settling in France in 1992. She received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000 and was a fifteen-time Grammy Award nominee over the course of her career.
Musicians who have cited Simone as important for their own musical upbringing include Emeli Sandé, Antony and the Johnsons, Nick Cave, Van Morrison, Christina Aguilera, Elkie Brooks, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Kanye West, Lena Horne, Bono, John Legend, Elizabeth Fraser, Cat Stevens, Anna Calvi, Peter Gabriel, Maynard James Keenan, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia Barrino, Michael Gira, Angela McCluskey, Lauryn Hill, Patrice Babatunde, Alicia Keys, Lana Del Rey, Matt Bellamy, Ian MacKaye, Kerry Brothers, Jr. “Krucial”, Amanda Palmer, Steve Adey 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”.
Simone’s music has been featured in soundtracks of various motion pictures and video games, including but not limited to, La Femme Nikita (1990), Point of No Return (1993), The Big Lebowski (1998), Notting Hill (1999), Any Given Sunday (1999), The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Six Feet Under (2001), The Dancer Upstairs (2002), Before Sunset (2004), Cellular (2004), Inland Empire (2006), Miami Vice (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 including “Feeling Good” featured prominently in the Season Four Promo of Six Feet Under (2004).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia