Eunice Kathleen Waymon (1933 – 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.
She then applied for a scholarship to study at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well-received audition, which she attributed to racial discrimination. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.
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“ 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.
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“.
Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.
Life is short. People are not easy to know. They’re not easy to know, so if you don’t tell them how you feel, you’re not going to get anywhere, I feel.
Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good
How do you explain what it feels like to get on the stage and make poetry that you know sinks into the hearts and souls of people who are unable to express it.
You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.
Jazz is not just music, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of being, a way of thinking.
Funk, gospel, blues is all out of slavery times, out of depression, out of sorrow.
Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music.
I would like you to know, I am a doctor of music.
Anything human can be felt through music, which means that there is no limit to the creating that can be done with music. You can take the same phrase from any song and cut it up so many different ways – it’s infinite. It’s like God… you know?
I tell you what freedom is to me: no fear.
Talent is a burden not a joy. I am not of this planet. I do not come from you. I am not like you.
Once I understood Bach’s music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world.
Music is an art and art has its own rules. And one of them is that you must pay more attention to it than anything else in the world, if you are going to be true to yourself. And if you don’t do it – and you are an artist – it punishes you.
Music is one of the ways by which you can know everything which is going on in the world. You can feel… through music… Whew… you can feel the vibrations of everybody in the world at any given moment.
It’s logical that people from bad times will reflect their feelings in their communication. Music is part of the communication. If you lived it, you can do it.
Through music you can become sad, joyful, loving, you can learn. You can learn mathematics, touch, pacing… Oh my God! Ooh… Wow… You can see colors through music. Anything!
What is love but a prelude to sorrow… with heartache ahead for your goal.
You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.
My love is like the wind and wild is the wind. Give me more than one caress, satisfy my hungriness. Let the wind blow through your heart for wild is the wind.
That is why we fly from the inner void, since God might steal into it. It is not the pursuit of pleasure and the aversion for effort which causes sin, but fear of God. We know that we cannot see him face to face without dying, and we do not want to die.
This is the world you have made yourself, now you have to live in it.