Inspiration Sunday – Nina Simone, Artist and Civil Rights Activist

4 years ago
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Nina Simone was a talented pianist, singer,and activist.  She spoke her mind and spoke up for what she believed.

She talked the talk - or sang the song.

She first learned to speak up at age 12 when she was about to play the piano at a church recital and her parents were told to move from the front to the back row due to their race.  She refused to play until her parents were allowed to return to the front row.

Nina_Simone_1965She was a beautiful woman who was told her skin was too dark, her nose too wide, her lips too big, and that her hair was all wrong.  When I read that she was put down for her looks, I was surprised. I had always thought she was a classical elegant beauty.  You can see her heart and her strength in her face.

 She was a Julliard trained pianist. She aspired to be the first African American classical pianist, but that opportunity was not open to her.  She played the piano in clubs to help support her parents and herself and this led to her fame.  You can hear the classical influence in her music.   

Her music became more and more political over the course of her life.  She protested the Vietnam War  and the denial of civil rights in the song Backlash Blues.  

 She wrote "Mississippi Goddam" to protest the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.  One of my favorite of her civil rights song is "I wish I knew How it Would Feel to Be Free".  She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  in all of his major marches.  She was there on the front line of the civil rights movement. 

There's a great interview by the BBC from 1999 that's available on YouTube  She's as beautiful and frank speaking in this interview as always.

Sadly, she felt so outraged by the racism she encountered in the United States that she moved abroad.  She finally settled in France.

She's probably best known for I Loves You Porgy and My Baby Just Cares For Me but as great as these songs are, her protest music is her strongest.

A film biography is in the works, I hope it's done as well as she would have wanted - if it isn't, I think somehow, she'll let the film producers know.

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