Eunice Kathleen Waymon better known as Nina Simone (1933-2003) was known for her classic jazz and blues vocals in the mid 1900’s. After aspirations to be a pianist were put to an end due to the color of her skin, she used another outlet, her voice. “I Loves You Porgy” became her first hit in 1958 after Bethlehem Records found her.
Simone created her stage name by taking the nickname an old boyfriend gave her “Nina” and using the first name of French actress Simone Signoret. At that moment a legend was born. Nina recorded over 40 albums featuring popular hits like “I Put a Spell On You” and “Feeling Good.”
Nina was also a civil rights activist. After the murder of Medgar Evers she began to openly address racial inequality in the United States with her songs. “Mississippi Goddam,” “Old Jim Crow” and more songs spoke about the inequalities African Americans had undergone.
Simone’s music continues to live on years after her death. Her sounds have been sampled by numerous artists from Lil Wayne to Aretha Franklin. This year, a biographical film is set to be released on her life played by actress Zoe Saldana.
Photo Credit: Biography