in this fascinating biography on Nina Simone by Alan Light, the late singer also speaks, through the many documents from her legacy of private correspondence and diaries. This brand new book is part of a revival on the artistry and life of Nina Simone, a militant and successful but also troubled singer who became an icon of American jazz & blues.
Director Cynthia Mort of ‘Nina’, the film released earlier this year in the US received a lot of criticism by casting the lightly colored actress Zoe Saldana, who does not resemble the singer physically and had to be transformed rather drastically to perform as the ‘blackskinned’ Nina Simone.
Then of course there was the Netflix documentary ‘What Happened, Miss Simone’ by Liz Garbus on which the book by Alan Light is based.
Ms Simone, known as one of the last great jazz divas, was also a committed civil rights activist in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, fighting oppression as a black woman from the segregated southern US states. Songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” became iconic statements of that period.
As a young jazz piano player and singer, Nina Simone was quickly discovered and found immediate success. She became a millionaire and a star on the American and international stages and performed in numerous television shows. But at the same time Simone began to become more and engaged with the emerging black protest movement of nonviolent protest of Martin Luther King to the racial separatism of Malcolm X. Her rants about racial discrimination in America from the stage alienated her public.
On April 21st 2003 hundreds of mourners gathered in the southern French town of Carry-le-Rouet to pay their last respects to legendary US jazz and blues singer Nina Simone (born Eunice Waymon 1933)
South African singer Ms Miriam Makeba, a close friend of Ms Simone, was among those in attendance at the funeral in the Our Lady of the Assumption church at Carry-le-Rouet, just west of the port city of Marseille.
“She was not only an artist but also a freedom fighter,” Ms Makeba said before taking a seat inside the church next to Simone’s 36-year-old daughter Lisa for the ceremony.
“Nina Simone was a part of history. She fought for the liberation of black people. It is with much pain that we received the news of her death” read a message sent from the South African government.
At her request, Ms Simone’s ashes were spread in several African countries.