by: LaShaunda McWright
It is common for people apart of the African Diaspora to use music to share the history and troubles of African Americans. These types of singers are often referred to as folk arts. Nina Simone used her talents as a black vocalist to express the pains of her community. From “Mississippi Goddamn” to her rendition of “ Strange Fruit”, Simone made certain to use her unique voice to explain her outrage with American racism.
Born and raised in Tryon, North Carolina Eunice Kathleen “Nina Simone” Waymon was a bright child. She was fixated on learning new musical elements. This included classical sounds. However, like many African American children, she learned music in the church, so it was not surprising that she would learn gospel as well. However, when she became of age she classified herself as a folk singer that was an unapologetic advocate for the Black Community.
“At this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don’t think you can help but be involved” ~ Nina Simone
In the prime of Nina Simone’s Career, the 1960s she moved overseas. The constant traumas inflicted upon her people became unbearable for Simone. She channeled her frustrations through her music. While n the United States of America she witnessed lynchings, brutal attacks, and murders against black people. Then, in 1964 she learned of the murders of the three activists in Mississippi, two white and one black male. Their murders were nearly covered up by the Mississippi Police department who were friends with the Klu Klux Klan. This senseless murder outraged Simone. Her outrage became apart of her performance. Mixed audiences would feel her pain through her lyrics. The emphasis on “GOTDamn” made the frustrations more bothersome.
By 1965, the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak. Every news article nearly about a lynching, Every television station broadcasting protests. Every day a new body is being discovered from a horrendous act. It was then, that Nina Simone decided to re-introduce the public to a song that used multiple instruments to tell the dark side of America.