Nina Simone, 1964

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© Ave Pildas

1964

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NINA SIMONE

In 1964, she changed record distributors, from the American Colpix to the Dutch Philips, which also meant a change in the contents of her recordings. Simone had always included songs in her repertoire that drew upon her African-American origins (such as “Brown Baby” and “Zungo” on Nina at the Village Gate in 1962). On her debut album for Philips, Nina Simone in Concert (live recording, 1964), however, Simone for the first time openly addressed the racial inequality that was prevalent in the United States with the song “Mississippi Goddam“, her response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four black children. The song was released as a single, and it was boycotted in certain southern states.[17][18] “Old Jim Crow”, on the same album, addressed the Jim Crow laws.

From then on, a civil rights message was standard in Simone’s recording repertoire, becoming a part of her live performances. Simone performed and spoke at many civil rights meetings, such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches.[19]Simone advocated violent revolution during the civil rights period, rather than Martin Luther King‘s non-violent approach,[20] and she hoped that African Americans could, by armed combat, form a separate state. Nevertheless, she wrote in her autobiography that she and her family regarded all races as equal.[21]

She covered Billie Holiday‘s “Strange Fruit“, a song about the lynching of black men in the South, on Pastel Blues (1965). She also sang the William Waring Cuney poem “Images” on Let It All Out (1966), about the absence of pride she saw among African-American women. Simone wrote “Four Women“, a song about four different stereotypes of African-American women,[17] and included the recording on her 1966 album Wild Is the Wind.[citation needed]

Simone moved from Philips to RCA Victor during 1967. She sang “Backlash Blues”, written by her friend Langston Hughes on her first RCA album, Nina Simone Sings the Blues (1967). On Silk & Soul (1967), she recorded Billy Taylor‘s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free” and “Turning Point”. The album ‘Nuff Said! (1968) contains live recordings from the Westbury Music Fair, April 7, 1968, three days after the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr.. She dedicated the whole performance to him and sang “Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)”, a song written by her bass playerGene Taylor, directly after the news of King’s death had reached them.[22] In the summer of 1969 she performed at the Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park.

Together with Weldon Irvine, Simone turned the late Lorraine Hansberry‘s unfinished play To Be Young, Gifted and Black into a civil rights song. Hansberry had been a personal friend whom Simone credited with cultivating her social and political consciousness. She performed the song live on the album Black Gold (1970). A studio recording was released as a single, and renditions of the song have been recorded by Aretha Franklin (on her 1972 album Young, Gifted and Black) and by Donny Hathaway.[17][21]

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Ave Pildas Jazz ArchiveNINA SIMONE, 1964

© Ave Pildas

Available Editions
13×19 Archival Pigment Print (Edition of 15)
16×20 Silver Gelatin (Edition of 5)

Dimensions indicate paper size.

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Signed and numbered on back by the photographer.
Certificate of authenticity provided.