Inspiring people: Nina Simone

Nina Simone was an exceptional singer, songwriter, and pianist. When she was prevented from pursuing classical music because she was black, she turned her enormous talent to jazz, blues, rhythm and soul music. She was born in Tryon, a town in North Carolina, United States, on February 21, 1933. Her parents had a very varied ancestry: Africans who had come to North America as slaves, Indians and the Irish. Her father, John Waymon, made a living in show business: he sang, played the harmonica, and danced.
Nina Simone grew up surrounded by music. In her home, all her brothers sang and played an instrument. They had never taken classes outside the home, they had learned everything from each other, watching and listening. Nina was a child prodigy who at the age of 3 began to play the piano with great talent. From a very young age, she stood out for her exceptional faculties; When she was 6 years old, her parents made her pursue classical piano studies. Regarding the development of her voice, she began singing in her local church.
In 1945, at the age of 12, she made her public debut with a piano recital as part of school parties. Her proud parents, naturally, had sat in the front row to hear her and see her better. After a while, they were “invited” to move to the back rows, for a white family to take their seats. When Eunice realized what was happening, she refused to continue playing until her parents were back in the front seats. That was how things happened in those years, and that was how Nina was.
Her piano teacher, an elderly white Jewish woman, admired for her exceptional talent, wanted to help her start a musical career. With the contributions of friends and neighbors who enjoyed her listening to Eunice (Nina Simone), the old woman raised funds so that her parents could send her to study in New York. John Waynon and Mary Kate did not hesitate for a moment to enroll her at the prestigious “Juilliard School of Music” in New York City. But her lack of financial resources prevented her from achieving her dream of becoming the first black pianist to perform classical music at Carnegie Hall in the United States. Later her family moved to Philadelphia, where she tried to get a scholarship at the “Curtis Institute of Music”, considered the best Conservatory in the USA and one of the best musical institutions in the world. Despite the merits of her, Nina was rejected diplomatically, for being black.
Due to these disappointments and to help her family financially, in 1954 Eudice decided to abandon classical music; she showed up to work at an Atlantic City nightclub. Eunice was only introducing herself as a pianist, but the owner wanted her to sing. She improvised a version of George Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” with her trademark deep timbre. Her boss was more than satisfied and immediately hired her to sing blues and jazz music; and also for her to play the piano.
During the 1960s, she became strongly involved in the Civil Rights Movement and recorded some political songs; some of them played by Aretha Franklin. In 1961, Nina Simone recorded a version of the traditional song “House of the Rising Sun”, which was also later recorded by Bob Dylan. In that year she recorded several more songs, which made her even more famous. She was a very versatile artist and enchanted the public, going from one style to another in the same concert. She also sang songs of a religious type, blues and jazz, than numbers of classical European style. In rejection of these violent crimes against black people, Nina Simone recorded several songs in defense of the right to be free and to live with dignity.

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