The Unrelenting Nina Simone: 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominee

Imagine a young twelve-year old pianist refusing to play at her debut classical recital because her parents were forced to move out of the front row to make room for white people. It was a defiant act which marked the beginning of a life of musical defiance and inspiration. Nina Simone was politically provocative then, and retained that reputation throughout her life.  Let’s take a closer look into Simone’s music and impact on the industry:

“Ain’t Got No, I Got Life”, London, 1968

Simone’s classical piano lessons cultivated a considerable musical talent. She studied at the Julliard School for a summer, in preparation for auditioning at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. So certain was her acceptance, that her entire family moved there in advance, only to discover that she was ultimately turned down. Simone believed her rejection was based on her race, and that infused her life with purpose.

“I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl”, French TV, 1967

She forged a career blending artistic excellence with unabashed political messages. She not only supported civil rights, she lived her messages. Her performances included volatile expressions of racial consciousness and political despair. Her 1964 protest song “Mississippi Goddam” was banned in selected southern states:

“Mississippi Goddam”, Live in Antibes, 1965

During the 1970s, she exiled herself from the United States. She lived in Europe, Africa, and Barbados. She performed, but sporadically. She had financial issues and tax problems which merged with her personal psychological issues for years.

“Take Me to the Water”, Morehouse College, 1969

But Simone left an unexpected legacy. Often named “the High Priestess of Soul” due to her sensual and seductive musicality, and referred to as “the civil rights diva” due to her musical social commentary, Simone’s musical presence influenced an astounding number of legendary rock & roll musicians who followed her. John Lennon claimed that Simone’s “I Put a Spell on You” was an inspiration source for the Beatles’ hit “Michelle”.

“I Put a Spell on You”

Elton John named a piano in his collection for Simone. Davie Bowie, Janis Joplin, John Legend, Madonna, Bono, Aretha Franklin, Adele, Mary J. Blige, and many more have cited her as significant to their development as musicians.  Mary J. Blige described Simone as being able to sing anything. Simone’s music as been covered, and featured in movie soundtracks, video games, commercials and TV series for decades.  Her influence has spread throughout the entertainment world in ways which she might never have expected, and certainly not realized by many who enjoy her music without realizing it originated with her.

Simone is one of the new nominees for the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Her gifted phrasing, passionate story-telling, and mastery of musical nuances have been embraced by audiences and performers alike. But, consider her life’s themes of empowering people of color, liberating the thinking of all people, committed truth-telling and interpreting the essence of human emotions. These are themes which rock & roll has always embraced and promoted with aggression and confidence. Simone confidently sang the people’s voices; just as she sang her own. Her aggressive and sensitive music reflected the world and her times. Perhaps more than ever before, Simone’s music continues to reflect and sing ours.



Leave a Reply

“Party of Five” Reboot Is in the Works on Freeform
Facebook Watch is Quietly Turning into Its Next Hit
Amazon Nudges up Monthly Prime Membership 18 Percent
A New Trolls TV Show Will Be Hitting Netflix Soon
The Top Five Elizabeth Hurley Movie Roles of Her Career
The “Paterno” Teaser Trailer Featuring Al Pacino
When Darth Vader’s James Earl Jones Voice Processor Breaks
Five Movies That Emotionally Scarred People for Life
Camila Cabello Performs A Fun Classroom Version Of “Havana” With Jimmy Fallon And The Roots
A Brief History of the Forecastle Festival
The Duke Nukem Theme Song Performed by a Hardware Orchestra
The Top Uses of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” in Movies
The Best True Professional Hockey Story of All-Time: Eddie Shore
DePaul Hoops Walk On is Becoming a Celebrity for his Bench Antics
Check out Shaq’s Tree of all The Rims He Tore Down in his Career
LaVar Ball’s New 16,000 Square Foot House Tour Will Annoy You Even More
Guy Builds 15-Minute Long ‘Aliens’ Themed Roller Coaster In Sim Game
Mom Confronts Son about Porn While He’s Live Streaming Video Games
Looks like the Game Boy Classic Edition is Making a Return
The Three Best VR Games of 2017 for Oculus Rift
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Paula Kerger
Shaquille O’Neal Campaigning For Role In The Avengers
Roger Stone Wants Hulk Hogan to Run for the U.S. Senate
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Tony Vinciquerra