Young, Gifted & Black: Songs of Freedom and Spirit (2006)
Nina: The Essential Nina Simone
The Very Best Of Nina Simone, 1967-1972 : Sugar
In My Bowl (1998) /
The Blues (1968, 1991) /
Compact Jazz: Nina Simone
* * * *
A Bio- Chronology
Simone (1933-2003) -- A protest singer; a jazz singer; a
pianist; an arranger and a composer, Nina Simone is a great
international artist who defies easy classification. She
sang jazz, rock, pop, and folk music. In fact, we can find her
biography in jazz, rock, pop, black and soul literature. Her
style and her hits provided many singers and groups with
material for hits of their own.
voice sometimes changes from dark and raw to soft and
sweet -- pauses, shouts, repeats, whispers and moans. She
used her voice with its remarkable timbre and her careful piano
playing as means to achieve her artistic aim, expressing
alternately love, hate, sorrow, joy, loneliness - the whole
range of human emotions -- through music, in a direct way. At
times piano, voice, and gestures seem to be separate elements,
then, at once, they meet. Her audience became captivated by her
spell. Nina Simone was a unique artist, the High Priestess of
Ain't Got No...I've Got Life
Four Women (video) / / Feelings (video)
Harlem Festival, Part 2 (video) /
Harlem Festival, Part 3 (video) /
Harlem festival, Part 4 (video)
* * * *
February) -- Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North
Carolina, USA., the sixth of eight children, four boys and four
1939 -- At
age of six, in 1939, a benefactor paid for her first piano
1943 -- At age
of ten, she gave her first piano recital at the town library.
--Eunice left North Carolina to continue her musical
education at the Juilliard School of Music in New York
-- Took a job as a singer-pianist in the Midtown Bar and
Grill in Atlantic City, adopting the stage name of Nina
Simone. "Nina" from a pet name and "Simone"
(from the French actress Simone
Signoret) for its dignified sound. It was at Midtown Bar, where
Nina Simone sang, played and
her career took off.
-- Recognized as a talented pianist, she was given a recording
session with Bethlehem Records in this session she records
-- Simone's first album Jazz (also know as Little
Girl Blue) as played in an Exclusive Side Street
Club (11 tracks), published in and by then , was a great
success, first in Philadelphia and New
York and then in the whole US.
--The single released from Jazz (featuring "I
Loves You Porgy" and "He Needs Me") became a
national rhythm & blues (placing 13th) hit in the summer of
, selling over a million copies. Thanks to
the success of her first recordings, in 1959 Simone signed with
Colpix (Columbia Pictures Records)
a collaboration that lasted until 1964. Nina recorded 10 albums
while signed to Colpix: six studio
and four "live" albums.
-- Records the traditional song "The House of the Rising
Sun." Nina marries Andy Stroud, a NewYork detective
1962 -- Daughter
Lisa Celeste Stroud is born.
(September)-- wrote "Mississippi Goddam!"
Her first song of
protest, written after the murders of Medgar Evers in
Mississippi (June 1963) and four black schoolchildren in
Alabama (September 1963).
-- Began association with Philips, a Mercury
collaboration lasted for three years during
which Nina recorded seven albums. One of the first songs recorded
during the Philips period is "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", from then associated with her name.
Nina publish "I Put a Spell on
You," a 1956 song by Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
-- Switches to RCA (she will stay until 1974), a deal
negotiated by her husband who acts as her manager and to whom
some compositions are credited. While at RCA Nina records nine
and some of her most popular songs, including "To Be Young,
Gifted And Black," inspired by a
play of the same name by Lorraine Hansberry, a friend of Nina.
Wrote "Four Women," a bitter lament of four black
women whose circumstances and outlook are
related to subtle gradations in skin color, the song was banned
on Philadelphia and new York radio
stations because "it was insulting to black people…"
-- Embittered by racism, Nina renounced her homeland and becomes
a wanderer, roaming the world.
Lives in Liberia, in Barbados, Switzerland, France, Trinidad,
the Netherlands, Belgium and UK at various times.
-- Nina and Stroud split up, and Nina attempt to manage herself
and work with her brother Sam
-- Leaves RCA.
1978 -- Arrested, and soon released, for
withholding taxes in 1971-73 in protest at her government's
undeclared war in Vietnam. Make the LP Baltimore for the
-- Fodder on my Wings for a Swiss label released, based
on her self-imposed "exile" from the USA. Nina wrote, adapted and arranged the songs, played piano and
harpsichord and sang in
English and French.
-- Records Nina's Back and Live and Kickin in US.
1987 -- European success with "My Baby Just Cares
For Me" brought Nina back into the public eye.
-- Contributed to Pete Townsend's musical "The
-- Recorded with Maria Bethania;
-- Recorded with Miriam Makeba.
-- her music featured in movie Point Of No Return, with
the lead character using Nina as inspiration.
Records Let It Be Me at The Vine Street Bar & Grill
in Hollywood for Verve Records.
Her autobiography I Put a Spell On You is published by
It was translated into French ("Ne
Me Quittez Pas"), German ("Meine Schwarze Seele")
and Dutch ("I Put A Spell On
You, - Herinneringen").
-- Moves to the southern French town of Bouc-Bel- Air near
Aix-en-Provence. A new studio album
was released, A Single Woman, includes several Rod
McKuen songs, and
Nina's "Marry Me," her version of the French standard
"Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux" and a very
moving "Papa, Can You Hear Me?"
-- A number of Nina's songs used in films.
-- Sang "Every Time I Feel The Spirit" at the Barbican
Theatre in London e as a tribute to singer and
actor Paul Robeson. More spirituals and "blood songs"
would follow: "Reached Down And Got My Soul,"
"The Blood Done Change My Name." and "When I See
The Blood." Highlight of the
Nice Jazz Festival in France.
-- "Ain't Got
No / I Got Life" was a big hit in The Netherlands,
just as it had been there 30 years
24 July, Nina was a special guest at Nelson Mandela's 80th
Thessalonica Jazz Festival in Greece
(7 October) -- Received a Lifetime Achievement in Music
Award in Dublin. At the Guinness Blues
Festival in Dublin, Ireland her daughter, Lisa Celeste sang a
few duets with her mother.
-- An international tour. Received Honorary Citizenship to
Atlanta (May 26), the Diamond Award for
Excellence in Music from the Association of African American
Music in Philadelphia (June 9) and
the Honorable Musketeer Award from the Compagnie des
Mousquetaires d'Armagnac in France
(21 April) -- Died in Carry-le-Rouet, France.
* * *
Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21,
2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone,
was an American singer, songwriter, pianist,
arranger, and civil rights activist widely
associated with jazz music. Simone aspired to become
a classical pianist while working in a broad range
of styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk,
R&B, gospel, and pop.
Born the sixth
child of a preacher's family in North Carolina,
Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. Her musical
path changed direction after she was denied a
scholarship to the prestigious
Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia,
despite a well-received audition. Simone was later
told by someone working at Curtis that she was
rejected because she was black. When she began
playing in a small club in Philadelphia to fund her
continuing musical education and become a classical
pianist she was required to sing as well. She was
approached for a recording by Bethlehem Records, and
her rendering of "I
Loves You Porgy" was a hit in the United States
in 1958. Over the length of her career Simone
recorded more than 40 albums, mostly between
1958—when she made her debut with
Little Girl Blue—and 1974. Her musical style
arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with
classical music, in particular with influences from
her first inspiration,
Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied with her
expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic
contralto. for equal rights in the US.—wikipedia
* * *
is not her name. Nina is our name. Nina is how we
call ourselves remade into an uprising. Eunice
Waymon started out life as a precocious child
prodigy—amazingly gifted at piano. She went to
church, sang, prayed and absorbed all the sweat of
the saints: the sisters dropping like flies and
rising like angels all around her. Big bosoms clad
in white. Tambourine-playing, cotton-chopping,
tobacco-picking, corn-shucking, floor-mopping,
child-birthing, man-loving hands. The spray of sweat
and other body secretions falling on young Eunice's
face informing her music for decades to come with
the fluid fire of quintessential Black musicking.
But there was also the conservatory and
the proper way to approach the high art
of music. The curve of the hands above
the keyboard. The ear to hear and mind
to understand the modulations in and out
of various keys. The notes contained in
each chord. She aspired to be a concert
pianist. But at root she was an obeah
woman. With voice and drum she could
hold court for days, dazzle multitudes,
regale us with the splendor, enrapture
us with the serpentine serendipity of
her black magic womanistness articulated
in improvised, conjured incantations.
"My daughter said, mama, sometimes I
don't understand these people. I told
her I don't understand them either but
I'm born of them, and I like it." Nina
picked up Moses' writhing rod, swallowed
it and now hisses back into us the
stories of our souls on fire. Hear me
now, on fire.
My first memory of Nina is twofold. One
that music critics considered her ugly
and openly said so. And two that she was
on the Tonight show back in the late
fifties/very early sixties singing "I
Love You Porgy." Both those memories go
hand in hand. Both those memories speak
volumes about what a Black woman could
and could not do in the Eisenhower era.
They called her ugly because she was
Black. Literally. Dark skinned. In the
late fifties, somewhat like it is now,
only a tad more adamant, couldn't no
dark skinned woman be pretty. In
commercial terms, the darker the uglier.
Nina was dark.
My first memory
of Nina is twofold. One that music critics
considered her ugly and openly said so. And two that
she was on the Tonight show back in the late
fifties/very early sixties singing "I Love You
Porgy." Both those memories go hand in hand. Both
those memories speak volumes about what a Black
woman could and could not do in the Eisenhower era.
They called her ugly because she was Black.
Literally. Dark skinned. In the late fifties,
somewhat like it is now, only a tad more adamant,
couldn't no dark skinned woman be pretty. In
commercial terms, the darker the uglier. Nina was
"Porgy" darkly. Made you know that the love she sang
about was the real sound of music, and that Julie
Andrews didn't have a clue. Was something so deep,
so strong that I as a teenager intuitively realized
that Nina's sound was both way over my head and was
also the water within which my soul was baptized.
Which is probably why I liked it, and is certainly
why my then just developing moth wings sent me
shooting toward the brilliant flashes of diamond
bright lightening which shot sparking cobalt blue
and ferrous red out of the black well of her mouth.
This was some elemental love. Some of the kind of
stuff I would first read about in James Baldwin's
Another Country, a book that America is still not
ready to understand. Love like that is what Nina's
Her piano was
always percussive. It hit you. Moved you. Socked it
to you. She could hit one note and make you sit up
straight. Do things to your anatomy. That was Nina.
Made a lot of men wish their name was Porgy. That's
the way she sang that song. I wanted to grow up and
be Porgy. Really. Wanted to grow up and get loved
like Nina was loving Porgy. For a long time, I never
knew nobody else sang that song. Who else could
possibly invest that song with such a serious
message, serious meaning? Porgy was Nina's man.
Nina's song. She loved him. And he was well loved.
In my youth, I
didn't think she was ugly. Nor did I didn't think
she was beautiful. She just looked like a dark Black
woman. With a bunch of make-up on in the early days.
Later, I realized what she really looked like was an
African mask. Something to shock you into a
realization that no matter how hard you tried, you
would never ever master white beauty because that is
not what you were. Fundamental Blackness. Severe
lines. Severe, you hear me. I mean, you hear Nina.
Dogonic, chiseled features. Bold eyes. Ancient eyes.
Done seen and survived slavery eyes. A countenance
so serious that only hand carved mahogany or ebony
could convey the features. . . .—wordup
* * *
* * * * *
The Warmth of Other Suns
The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's
wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in
1937, after her cousin was falsely accused
of stealing a white man's turkeys and was
almost beaten to death. In 1945, George
Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled
Florida for Harlem after learning of the
grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie
party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing
Foster made his trek from Louisiana to
California in 1953, embittered by "the
absurdity that he was doing surgery for the
United States Army and couldn't operate in
his own home town." Anchored to these three
stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively
researched study of the "great migration,"
the exodus of six million black Southerners
out of the terror of Jim Crow to an
"uncertain existence" in the North and
Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological
and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling,
and Pershing settling in new lands, building
anew, and often finding that they have not
left racism behind. The drama, poignancy,
and romance of a classic immigrant saga
pervade this book, hold the reader in its
grasp, and resonate long after the reading
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America.
This collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to
promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of
Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source
of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their
own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless,
it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate
the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.”
Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this
simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk
sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually
just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.
She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—
* * * * *
Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction
By Kiini Ibura Salaam
Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ''Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.'' Indeed, Ms. Salaam's stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to
Ancient, Ancient, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ''Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf's Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini's body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.''
* * *
By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. 'Karma's Footsteps' brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. "Ekere Tallie's new work 'Karma's Footsteps' is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who "refuses to tiptoe" she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.—Nikky Finney /
Ekere Tallie Table
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 19 August 2012