Nina Simone

Nina Simone

Source: RCA Victor (1967)


the high priestess of soul

She was held back by racism, played piano at age 3, was a civil rights activist and was wanted for unpaid taxes. Jazz legend Nina Simone was a fighter. As a young singer, her parents came to see her perform but were forced to sit in the back of the theatre so white people could sit up front. That so angered Simone that she later fought for the rights of black people, but became an advocate for violence and at one point, wanted to create a separate state for all black people. Simone's career hit a bad patch when, in the 1980s, she was often drunk on stage, and started to lash out at her audiences if she felt they were not listening to her. She once fired a gun at a record company executive she accused of stealing from her, admitting she tried to kill him "but missed." Simone would slowly recover but continued to have bouts of extreme aggression, and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her daughter Lisa reported that Simone would physically beat her. Wanted for tax evasion, Simone decided to live in Europe to avoid US authorities. Known for her wide ranging talents in pop, gospel, classical music and jazz - many music experts say Simone's timeless style remains relevant today. She died of breast cancer in France at the age of 70 in 2003. You can hear Nina Simone here on Jazz Diva Radio.