Today we welcome a guest post from Nadine Cohodas, author of Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone, available in paperback from UNC Press. Born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, Nina Simone (1933-2003) began her musical life playing classical piano. A child prodigy, she wanted a career on the concert stage, but when… Continue Reading Nadine Cohodas: Reconstructing Nina Simone’s Earliest Days
Nina Simone—the High Priestess of Soul to some, a fierce advocate of racial justice to others—would seem to be an unlikely interpreter of Israeli folk songs. Yet in 1962, as her career was taking off, Simone incorporated “Eretz Zavat Chalev” (“The Land of Milk and Honey”) into her repertoire. It proved to be an early example of her eclectic musical taste and one of her initial steps in moving beyond the traditional jazz combo–piano, bass, and drums–an evolution that would cement her place among world-renowned artists.
Continue Reading Nadine Cohodas: Nina Simone and Israeli Folk Music
“My work completely takes all my energy,” Nina said later, “but when there are kids who come backstage afterward who want to talk, or who are moved to the point sometimes, they’re moved to tears and want to know more about it, they shake my hand and kiss me and want to talk about their problems, I find the time to do so.” Continue Reading Happy Birthday, Nina Simone
But for me, a medley from her July 4, 1963, appearance stands out as the quintessential Nina Simone moment. In just over six minutes, she displayed the range of her musical inspirations and a gift for improvisation that can come only from a deep appreciation of each genre and the skill—both vocal and at the keyboard—to carry it off. Continue Reading Nadine Cohodas: The Power of Nina Simone’s Musical Versatility