Tag Archives: Nina Simone

Black History Month 2016: Nina Simone

21 Feb

nina-simone2Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to one of my personal heroes, Nina Simone. Simone would have been 83 years old today.  I remember crying my eyes out on April 21, 2003 when I heard that Nina Simone died. I fell in love with her smoky jazz voice so many years ago.  Emeli Sandé credits Simone as one of her major influences

Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born in Tryon, NC, and aspired to be a classical pianist. Despite her prodigious talent, she was denied scholarships and admissions and pursued a career in clubs instead. Eventually signed to Colpix, she was boxed into a pop-jazz mode for a few years. She took the standards she was given and began subverting them with her unique style — she was described as being a piano player, singer, and performer, “separately and simultaneously.” Over the years her stage set became famous for her powerful interpretations and righteous original songs.

Simone’s response to the assassination of Medgar Evers and the bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed four children, was Mississippi GoddamIn Mississippi Goddam, we see Simone taking her place in the civil rights movement. Unlike Dr. King, Simone advocated violence if necessary in order to establish a separate state for African-Americans – who could blame her. You can only feel beaten down so much without building up a great amount of rage. I have such a great admiration for Dr. King for sublimating his rage into non-violent means. The song Backlash Blues was written by her friend Langston Hughes. Simone was also friends with Lorraine Hansberry and turned one of her plays, To Be Young, Gifted and Black into a civil rights song.  In 1972, Aretha Franklin did a cover of that song. The song Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood was written specifically for Simone. Her version works simultaneously as a love song and a protest song, showing her emotional depth and complexity.

Sadly, it is painfully clear how much we still need Nina Simone’s voice and activism. I suspect she still inspires many of us. Happy Birthday to the national treasure that is Nina Simone.

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Black History Month 2013: Nina Simone

25 Feb

Nina Simone in Pink Dress and Gold TurbanToday I would like to honor and pay tribute to one of my personal heroes, Nina Simone. Her 80th birthday was this month and we lost her nearly ten years ago. I remember crying my eyes out on April 21, 2003 when I heard that Nina Simone died. I fell in love with her smoky jazz voice so many years ago.  I can’t drink gin without thinking of our Nina.

Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born in Tryon, NC, and aspired to be a classical pianist. Despite her prodigious talent, she was denied scholarships and admissions and pursued a career in clubs instead. Eventually signed to Colpix, she was boxed into a pop-jazz mode for a few years. She took the standards she was given and began subverting them with her unique style — she was described as being a piano player, singer, and performer, “separately and simultaneously.” Over the years her stage set became famous for her powerful interpretations and righteous original songs.

Simone’s response to the assassination of Medgar Evers and the bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed four children, was Mississippi GoddamIn Mississippi Goddam, we see Simone taking her place in the civil rights movement. Unlike Dr. King, Simone advocated violence if necessary in order to establish a separate state for African-Americans – who could blame her. You can only feel beaten down so much without building up a great amount of rage. I have such a great admiration for Dr. King for sublimating his rage into non-violent means.The song Backlash Blues was written by her friend Langston Hughes. Simone was also friends with Lorraine Hansberry and turned one of her plays, To Be Young, Gifted and Black into a civil rights song.  In 1972, Aretha Franklin did a cover of that song.

Nina Simone you are missed and cherished.

Welcome to Mississippi, well if you are white…

9 Apr

Welcome if You Are White

First, I want to thank my friend Tom McCollin for helping inspire this story. In a state where Haley Barbour is still much beloved, this screams: Stay out of Mississippi unless you are white, heterosexual and christian. I’m sure we all remember Barbour’s blatantly racist comments a year ago on CNN.  When Barbour was asked if Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had been insensitive to omit any mention of slavery in his proposal to recognize Confederate HIstory Month, Barbour replied:

To me, it’s a sort of feeling that it’s a nit, that it is not significant, that it’s not a—it’s trying to make a big deal out of something doesn’t amount to diddly.

Oh, you charmer you!  Really? Really? How on earth did this man get elected as governor of Mississippi? Did they hold all the black folk hostage and prevent them from voting?  I am mortified to say that it is only getting worse. When Public Policy Polling (PPP) asked Mississippi voters whether they think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal- 46% of Mississippi Republicans said it should be illegal while just 40% who think it should be legal.  Click here to see the full story. Please tell me they are not going to bring back the miscegenation laws.  I shall end this post in RAGE with Nina Simone, for I could not have said it any better than she.

Women’s History: February 21

21 Feb

Pioneer in Women's Education

Happy Birthday, Alice Freeman Palmer. At age 26, Palmer became President of Wellesley College. Palmer was the first woman to be the head of a nationally known college at a time when there was still debate as to whether or not women should be educated.

Happy Birthday, Nina Simone. Simone is one of my personal favorites.

It was not until February 21, 1980 that the AFL-CIO voted to reserve 2 seats on its 35 member executive team for a woman and a member of a minority group.

Celebrating Black History Month: February 11

11 Feb

The Legendary Nina Simone

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Nina Simone. I remember crying my eyes out on April 21, 2003 when I heard that Nina Simone died. I fell in love with her smoky jazz voice so many years ago.  I can’t drink gin without thinking of our Nina. Simone’s response to the assassination of Medgar Evers, and the bombing of the church in Birmingham that killed four children, was, Mississippi Goddam. In Mississippi Goddam, we see Simone taking her place in the civil rights movement. Unlike Dr. King, Simone advocated violence if necessary in order to establish a separate state for African-Americans–who could blame her. You can only feel beaten down so much without building up a great amount of rage. I have such a great admiration for Dr. King for sublimating his rage into non-violent means. The song Backlash Blues was written by her friend Langston Hughes. Simone was also friends with Lorraine Hansberry and turned one of her plays, To Be Young, Gifted and Black into a civil rights song.  In 1972, Aretha Franklin did a cover of the same song. Nina Simone you are missed and cherished.

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