Nina Simone


Nina Simone was a pianist, singer and civil rights activist. She has been called a jazz diva and the "high priestess of soul". She was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on 21 February 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, and began playing the piano at the age of four. Thanks to the support of a teacher, the artist, who came from the poorest of backgrounds, received a scholarship in 1950 to study music at the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York. However, she soon had to give up her original goal of becoming a classical pianist. "Because I was poor and black," she once recounted. "So I had no other alternative, I had to make a living by performing in nightclubs."
She made her first recordings in 1957 for the Bethlehem Records label with bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Al "Tootie" Heath. She had her first big hit in 1958 with her version of Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy". The single sold over a million copies and placed in the Top 20 of the Rhythm'n'Blues charts. Nina Simone herself, of course, had little of this and some later successes, as she was repeatedly taken advantage of by managers and agents of her record companies in her early years.
This changed in 1963 when she switched to the Philips Records label, for which she recorded seven albums in the following three years, all of which became milestones. At the same time, the always combative artist, who actively supported the civil rights movement of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, also recorded political songs.
In 1974, she bitterly turned her back on the USA and emigrated. The following years became an odyssey that took her halfway around the globe. When she returned to the USA for a concert in 1978, she was promptly arrested for tax evasion. Simone had not paid her taxes in the early 70s to protest against the Vietnam War.
Nina Simone, who finally settled near Marseille in 1993, experienced a renaissance from 1987, when her 30-year-old hit "My Baby Just Cares For You" was used for a Chanel perfume commercial. Nina Simone took her leave from the stage due to illness and died in her sleep on 21 April 2003. Her version of the spiritual "Sinnerman" is the basis for the choreography All Long Dem Day by Marco Goecke. Nina Simone had become familiar with the verses at a young age in church, where her mother was a Methodist preacher. The song occupied a special place in her repertoire. In the first phase of her career, she very often ended her performances with this song. All Long Dem Day was performed by the Bayerisches Junior Ballett München as part of the Sphären series at the Prinzregententheater in June 2023.