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Friday, February 19, 2010

Clark Dark's Black History Month Entertainment Spotlight: Nina Simone America's Classical Music Princess Noire Diva Extraordinaire-Part 2

Nina Simone (1933-2003) had valiantly survived a breast cancer diagnosis until April 2003 when she died quietly at her home in France. Before her death there were many shows, recordings, awards, commendations and expressions of her love of humanity.
"For me the music never stops"~ Dr. Nina Simone
1957 the beginning of her career in entertainment was accompanied by the usual "overnight sensation" lights, camera action whirlwind scene. Simone played the better venues as her recordings and live performances made her more popular.

Nina Simone's vocal stylings are characterized by much passion; some call it an androgynous timbre. Her vocal range is very low alto to even baritone lows.

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She married briefly to Don Ross; she met and married another man for whom she had a child. Nina Simone gave birth to a daughter during her marriage to former police detective Andy Stroud who became her recording agent. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1970. Her daughter is a singer performer who goes by the mononym Simone.

Many times her music has been classified as jazz. Nina Simone's thoughts on what she considers an erroneous classification:
"To most white people, jazz means black and jazz means dirt and that's not what I play. I play black classical music. That's why I don't like the term "jazz," and Duke Ellington didn't like it either -- it's a term that's simply used to identify black people." Nina Simone in an interview with Brantley Bardin 1997
Simone live or recorded was eccentric, beautiful, sensual, exotic, fiery, energetic, clever with musical renditions as varied as her first recording of a Gershwin tune "I Loves You Porgy" from the musical Porgy and Bess; to her own original composition "Mississippi Goddamn!" Her most prolific period being 1958 through 1974. Her last album was recorded in 1993 "A Single Woman"

Disillusioned by the never ending American racism, personal as well as business challenges involving the record companies, the IRS and failed marriages, Nina Simone left the U.S.. First living in Barbados, then with encouragement from fellow musician and friend the late Miriam Makeeba and others she moved to Liberia.

For the sake of her daughter Lisa Celeste's education Simone moved to Switzerland and later France where she died in 2003.

In 1995 she was awarded by a San Francisco court ownership of 52 of her master recordings.

This composer of more than 500 songs has been called "not a pop singer", "a hopeless eccentric"; she was described in 1993 by Don Shewey in a piece he wrote for the Village Voice, as an artist who has "turned herself into a force of nature, an exotic creature spied so infrequently that every appearance is legendary."

She wrote music that became the narrative for a movement that resounded around the world. She has been called the "High Priestess Of Soul"

Nina Simone's art can be heard on more than 40 recordings both live events and studio sessions. Her music can be heard on film soundtracks, television ads like the Chanel No. 5 ad and television series around the world.


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