Today in Black HERstory: Nina Simone
Today's Black HERstory, we celebrate the birth of Nina Simone. She was a singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and activist in the civil rights movement.
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, the sixth child of a preacher, her original aspirations were to be a concert pianist. And with the help of some supporters from her home town, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York.
To make a living, Waymon started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name from Eunice Waymon to "Nina Simone" to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play "the devil's music" or "cocktail piano". She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist.
Simone recorded more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974. She made her debut with the album Little Girl Blue. She had a hit in the United States in 1958 with "I Loves You, Porgy."
Simone performed and spoke at civil rights meetings, such as at the Selma to Montgomery marches. Like Malcolm X, her neighbor in Mount Vernon, New York, she supported black nationalism and advocated violent revolution rather than Martin Luther King's non-violent approach. She hoped that African Americans could use armed combat to form a separate state, though she wrote in her autobiography that she and her family regarded all races as equal.
Simone suffered from breast cancer for years, and she died in her sleep at her home in Carry-le-Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhône, France on April 21, 2003.
We salute a queen when we see one!! Happy birthday and rest in Paradise, Nina Simone!