Eunice Kathleen Waymon, also known as Nina Simone, was born on February 21, 1933 in Carry-le-Rouet, France to Rev. John Devan Waymon and Mary Kate Waymon. Simone’s music teacher saw her potential and created a special fund to pay for her high school education. The locals also helped in paying for it as well. Once she was able to attend a good high school, she spent time at Juilliard to prepare to study at a pristine institute in Philadephia. Her application was denied, she thought because of racial bias, but this downfall did not help because her family had relocated to Philadelphia. Since, she wasn’t accepted she was very discouraged and took lessons with a Curtis Institute pianists.
Simone started off working a bar which funded her lessons and also where she adopted her stage name. She adopted this stage name so she would remain unknown because her mother would mot agree with “the Devil’s music” she had been playing. Simone performed her rendition of George Gershwin’s “I Loves You, Porgy” and this became her only Billboard top 20 success in the U.S. She then went on to release her debut album Little Blue Girl in 1959 on Bethlehem Records. She sold her rights for $3,000 causing her to lose more than 1 million dollars in royalties for her jazz standard “My Baby Just Cares For Me.”
After the success of her debut album, she signed with Colpix Records. They gave her creative control in exchange for signing with them. In 1964, she changed record distributors. On her debut album, with this new Record company, she released song called “Mississippi Goddam” that addressed the racial inequality in the U.S. Later, Simone stated that the song harmed her career and the music industry punished her by boycotting her records. She then left the U.S and went to Barbados. When she returned, she had a warrant for unpaid taxes and had to go back to Barbados so she wouldn’t be prosecuted. She ended up gaving an affair with the Prime Minister. After, she moved to Liberia and also abandoned her daughter. Her daughter described her as mentally and physically abusive. Simone moved a lot of different places from the Netherlands to Amsterdam.
Simone suffered from breast cancer for several years. On April 21, 2003, she died at her home in France.
“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s long being served.”
“I do not believe in mixing of the races. You can quote me. I don’t believe in it, and I never have. I’ve never changed. I’ve never changed my hair. I’ve never changed my color, I have always been proud of myself, and my fans are proud of me for remaining the way I’ve always been. I married a white man one time, but he was a creep.”
“You don’t have to live next to me / Just give me my equality.”
Folk music is about the passion, beat and rhythm. Nina Simone played more than folk music. Some of her music could be put in the blue category but she did only record folk music. Nina Simone even used protest music to challenge racism. Music can be used in different ways especially for people growing up and living through the times of Slavery and different Civil Rights movements. Nina Simone is a woman that everyone knows. If her name is mentioned, someone will know who she is. She paved a way for a lot of artists.
In Chapter 5 of The Songs of Black (Women) Folk: Music, Politics, and Everyday Living, Rasheedah Quiett Jenkins is determined to highlight the connections between several black