Nina Simone’s vocal work, like Billie Holiday’s, is so strong it gets airplay on non-jazz stations. And after decades of play, her songs are still popular today. She is one of the 10 female jazz singers we’re profiling in our new KEXP Documentary series Sirens of Jazz.
Nina Simone started out as a child prodigy on the piano. She felt she was denied many opportunities because she was African-American. When she was 24 she signed away the rights to a song “I Love You Porgy” and when the song hit the charts, missed out on over a million dollars. As a live performer “she had a mesmerizing quality, almost as if she were grappling to heal herself through the performance”.
This KEXP Documentary has vintage clips of the mysterious woman speaking her mind. Showing the balance of her sensitivity and richness, next to her hot temper and fear. One of the first and most important civil rights activists, Nina wrote many songs about racism in America. And at the time, during the Civil Rights Era of the 50′s and 60′s, she could have been killed for speaking up. But no one could silence Nina Simone.
KEXP Documentaries are created by Michele Myers. With assistance from John Felthous, Abe Beeson and Mary Janisch. Executive Producer is Kevin Cole. If you would like to follow along more closely in the creation of these radio stories, we post research materials, songs and videos on our Facebook page and on Twitter.