February 29, 2012 @ 8:15 am
In honor of the leap year and general fatigue, I’m going to give the last word here to Eunice Kathleen Waymond– or as you know her, Nina Simone. She just had a birth-iversary and would have made 79 years old on the 21st. She was a preacher’s child born in North Carolina with five younger siblings. She wanted to be a pianist since childhood but was denied a scholarship because she was black. She started playing clubs in Philadelphia to finance her education and was coerced into singing as well. Her mom was horrorfied by the idea of her daughter playing in bars and clubs, so Eunice changed her name to Nina (“little one” in Spanish) Simone (Simone Signoret, a celebrated French movie star). ‘I Loves You Porgy’ was her first hit in 1958. She’s quoted as saying: “When I was studying… there weren’t any black concert pianists. My choices were intuitive, and I had the technique to do it. People have heard my music and heard the classic in it, so I have become known as a black classical pianist. Jazz is a white term to define black people. To most white people, jazz means black and jazz means dirt, and that’s not what I play. My music is black classical music.” She ascended in 2003.