55 Facts About Nina Simone


Eunice Kathleen Waymon, known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist.


The sixth of eight children born into a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist.


Nina Simone then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where, despite a well received audition, she was denied admission, which she attributed to racism.


Nina Simone was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist.


Nina Simone went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue.


Nina Simone's piano playing was strongly influenced by baroque and classical music, especially Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.


Nina Simone was born on February 21,1933, in Tryon, North Carolina.

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Nina Simone's father, John Divine Waymon, worked as a barber and dry-cleaner as well as an entertainer, and her mother, Mary Kate Irvin, was a Methodist preacher.


Nina Simone later said that during this performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people.


Nina Simone said that she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front, and that the incident contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement.


Nina Simone took a job as a photographer's assistant, but found work as an accompanist at Arlene Smith's vocal studio and taught piano from her home in Philadelphia.


Nina Simone kept this attitude toward the record industry for most of her career.


Nina Simone married Andrew Stroud, a New York police detective, in December 1961.


In 1964, Nina Simone changed record distributors from Colpix, an American company, to the Dutch Philips Records, which meant a change in the content of her recordings.


Nina Simone had always included songs in her repertoire that drew on her African-American heritage, such as "Brown Baby" by Oscar Brown and "Zungo" by Michael Olatunji on her album Nina at the Village Gate in 1962.


Nina Simone said that the song was "like throwing ten bullets back at them", becoming one of many other protest songs written by Simone.


Nina Simone 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.


Nina Simone sang "Backlash Blues" written by her friend, Harlem Renaissance leader Langston Hughes, on her first RCA album, Nina Simone Sings the Blues.


Nina Simone credited her friend Hansberry with cultivating her social and political consciousness.


Nina Simone performed the song live on the album Black Gold.


Nina Simone claimed that the music industry punished her by boycotting her records.


When Nina Simone returned to the United States, she learned that a warrant had been issued for her arrest for unpaid taxes and fled to Barbados to evade the authorities and prosecution.


Nina Simone stayed in Barbados for quite some time and had a lengthy affair with the Prime Minister, Errol Barrow.


When Nina Simone relocated, she abandoned her daughter Lisa in Mount Vernon.


Nina Simone recorded her last album for RCA, It Is Finished, in 1974, and did not make another record until 1978, when she was persuaded to go into the recording studio by CTI Records owner Creed Taylor.

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Four years later, Nina Simone recorded Fodder on My Wings on a French label, Studio Davout.


Nina Simone lived in Liberia, Barbados and Switzerland and eventually ended up in Paris.


The performances were sometimes brilliant and at other times Nina Simone gave up after fifteen minutes.


In 1987, Nina Simone scored a huge European hit with the song "My Baby Just Cares for Me".


Nina Simone bought an apartment next to the Belvoir Hotel with view of the Waalbrug and Ooijpolder, with the help of her friend Gerrit de Bruin, who lived with his family a few corners away and kept an eye on her.


Nina Simone was known for her temper and outbursts of aggression.


Nina Simone was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by a friend of De Bruin, who prescribed Trilafon for her.


In 1991 Nina Simone exchanged Nijmegen for the more lively Amsterdam, where she lived for two years with friends and Hammond.


In 1993, Nina Simone settled near Aix-en-Provence in southern France.


Nina Simone's daughter Lisa Celeste Stroud is an actress and singer who took the stage name Simone, and who has appeared on Broadway in Aida.


Nina Simone explains in her autobiography I Put a Spell on You that the purpose of the song was to inspire Black women to define beauty and identity for themselves without the influence of societal impositions.


Nina Simone's bearing and stage presence earned her the title "the High Priestess of Soul".


Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis spoke highly of Nina Simone, deeply impressed by her ability to play three-part counterpoint.


Nina Simone was known to pay close attention to the design and acoustics of each venue, tailoring her performances to individual venues.


Nina Simone was perceived as a sometimes difficult or unpredictable performer, occasionally hectoring the audience if she felt they were disrespectful.


Nina Simone later attributed his generally negative appraisal to Simone's consistent seriousness of manner, depressive tendencies, and classical background.


Nina Simone was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the late 1980s.


Nina Simone was known for her temper and outbursts of aggression.


In 1985, Nina Simone fired a gun at a record company executive, whom she accused of stealing royalties.


Nina Simone received two honorary degrees in music and humanities, from Amherst College and Malcolm X College.

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Nina Simone preferred to be called "Dr Nina Simone" after these honors were bestowed upon her.


Nina Simone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.


Two days before her death, Nina Simone learned she would be awarded an honorary degree by the Curtis Institute of Music, the music school that had refused to admit her as a student at the beginning of her career.


Nina Simone has received four career Grammy Award nominations, two during her lifetime and two posthumously.


Nina Simone garnered a second nomination in the category in 1971, for her Black Gold album, when she again lost to Franklin for "Don't Play That Song ".


Nina Simone's filmed 1976 performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival is available on video courtesy of Mercury Studios and is screened annually in New York City at an event called "The Rise and Fall of Nina Simone: Montreux, 1976" which is curated by Tom Blunt.


Cynthia Mort, wrote the screenplay and directed the 2016 film Nina Simone, starring Zoe Saldana, who since openly apologized for taking the controversial title role.


The second documentary in 2015, The Amazing Nina Simone is an independent film written and directed by Jeff L Lieberman, who initially consulted with Simone's daughter, Lisa before going the independent route and then worked closely with Simone's siblings, predominantly Sam Waymon.


Nina Simone was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.


Nina Simone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.