Nina Simone

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Nina Simone in 1965

Nina Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned many musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.


  • When the poets rhyme in the summertime/You'll hear melodies in the words
  • Mr. Backlash, Mr. Backlash/Just who do you think I am?/You raise my taxes, freeze my wages/And send my son to Vietnam/You give me second class houses/And second class schools/Do you think that all colored folks/Are just second class fools?
  • the world is big/Big and bright and round/And it's full of folks like me/Who are black, yellow, beige and brown
    • Backlash Blues 1967
  • Well I wish I could be like a bird in the sky/How sweet it would be/If I found I could fly/I'd soar to the sun/And look down at the sea/And I sing 'cause I know/How it feels to be free
    • I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 1967
  • I wish I could share all the love that's in my heart/Remove all the bars that keep us apart/I wish you could know what it means to be me/Then you'd see and agree/That everyone should be free/But, oh, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good/Oh, Lord, please, don't let me be misunderstood
    • I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free 1967
  • Hound dogs on my trail/School children sitting in jail/Black cat cross my path/I think every day's gonna be my last/Don't tell me, I'll tell you/Me and my people just about due/I've been there so I know/They keep on saying "Go slow!"
    • Mississippi Goddam 1964
  • Picket lines, school boycotts/They try to say it's a communist plot/All I want is equality/For my sister, my brother, my people, and me
    • Mississippi Goddam 1964

I Put a Spell on You (1991)[edit]

  • What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.
  • This is the world you have made yourself, now you have to live in it.
  • It was always Marx, Lenin, and revolution - real girl's talk.

Quotes about Nina Simone[edit]

  • When I say poet, it's an arbitrary word. It's a word I use because I don't like the word artist. Nina Simone is a poet. Max Roach is a poet. There is a whole list of people. I'm not talking about literature at all. I'm talking about the recreation of experience, you know, the way that it comes back. Billie Holiday was a poet. She gave you back your experience. She refined it, and you recognized it for the first time because she was in and out of it and she made it possible for you to bear it. And if you could bear it, then you could begin to change it. That's what a poet does. I'm not talking about books. I'm talking about a certain kind of passion, a certain kind of energy which people produce and they secrete in certain people like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Max Roach because they need it and these people give it back to you and they get you from one place to another.
    • 1973 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • Still mildly under the influence of 2-CB, I reflected on the evening and my time at Boom. In the background, Nina Simone was singing her soul-wrenching song "Why?," which laments the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. Something about the combination of 2-CB-related effects and Nina's heartfelt voice made me feel the song as if for the very first time, even though I had listened to it since I was a child. I was able to make connections between the love and freedom King advocated for everyone and the love and freedom we all experienced at Boom: it came down to the protection of personal liberty and the unalienable right to pursue happiness. The Portuguese government has taken a step in the right direction with its drug-decriminalization policy. The U.S. government, by contrast, has yet to stand up to the promise of the Declaration of Independence. Nina asked earnestly, "Will my country fall, stand or fall? Is it too late for us all?"
    • Carl Hart Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear (2021)
  • Artists like Nina Simone and James Baldwin, who were able to create work that really spoke about the conditions facing Black people and work that would remain universal contributions to culture—something that would continue to shape generations.

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