February 5, 2010

Black History - The High Priestess of Soul

Nina Simone was an African American singer, song-writer, pianist, composer and civil rights activist whose long musical career still influences modern music today. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, Nina (also known as The High Priestess of Soul) started playing the piano at the age of four. She continued her musical education into adulthood, studying classical piano at Julliard School of Music. In 1958, she recorded her debut album, Little Girl Blue, which was the first in a long list of successful studio and live albums. It is this impressive repertoire that has caught the ears of many of today’s musical artist, such as Mos Def, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, and Lil’ Wayne. Many artists have sampled Nina’s music into their own work, introducing the musical genius of “The High Priestess of Soul” to a younger generation of listeners.

Nina Simone Pictures, Images and Photos
Nina’s contribution to modern day Hip-Hop and Rhythm and Blues is evident today’s music. Many of today’s musical artists credit her for impacting their style and music. Talib Kweli was quoted in an interview as saying "Nina Simone was very inspirational as a person to me.” Kweli also remixed Nina’s 1966 song, Four Women.

Another admirer of Nina’s music is Lil’ Wayne. The rapper sampled parts of Nina’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood in the introduction and chorus of his song DontGetIt which can be found on his successful 2008 album, Tha Carter III.

Dr. Simone is also appreciated in today’s Rhythm and Blues genre. Mary J. Blige’s song, About You, featuring Will.I.Am, contains elements of Nina’s Feeling Good throughout the chorus. The singer is also slated to star as Nina in a film chronicling her life. The film is due to release in 2012. Nina’s music can also be found in various movie soundtracks, and television commercials. Her great impact on modern music is endless.

Even though Nina Simone is no longer with us (sadly, she died of breast cancer in 2003), her music is still admired by those who came after her. If Nina were alive today, she would probably view the fact that other musicians are sampling and remixing her work as a form of admiration. She paved the way for many of today’s African American Rhythm and Blues artists. The sampling technique has provided these artists with the opportunity to bring forth the music of yesterday into today. Because of this, her influence in music is still strong. Younger listeners are able to appreciate the bluesy, yet intense nature of Nina Simone’s music. This can only mean one thing - her legacy will live on f o r e v e r.

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