Today is the late Nina Simone’s birthday (1933 – 2003), an amazing musician not only for her craft but also her cultural and historical significance. So I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to share my favourite Simone song, Black is the Color of My True Loves Hair.
I debated between sharing the studio version or the live one given I fell in love with the recorded version years ago, her rich velvety voice together with that haunting cello was instantly grabbing; however I’ve decided to share a live version simply because there is nothing quite like viewing an artist in action. This performance is hypnotic to watch.
‘Eunice Kathleen Waymon…better known by her stage name Nina Simone…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.’- Source
Her music is a vivid combination of jazz, pop and classical styles with particular influences stemming from German Composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. In her later career Nina Simone’s work took on the weight of the American Civil Rights Era, one of her most well known songs Strange Fruit (a cover originally recorded by Billie Holiday), is poignantly about the lynching of black men in the South and hearing it really stirs the emotions of any listener.
Nina Simone battled through a wide range of adversities for and with her art and her story is truly incredible.
*PS: Here’s a REMIX of Black is the Colour of My True Loves Hair, it’s pretty fabulous 😀
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