Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Artist that a Old Head told me to check out: Nina Simone

For the past week or so since I saw Saxophone Willy in that shopping mall, I have called him a few times but made no real attempt to contact him. Not that I'm mad or anything, but because I'm a coward when it comes to receiving any bad news I just hope his gambling debts didn't result in him taking a very lengthy dirt nap. That being said, I really didn't know what older person I would use for this particular entry. I was going to use MR. Wilson, the father of my friend Jerry, but had to kill that idea when I realized that he was going through some black "American Beauty" shit. I mean, fucking girls more than half his age, smoking the "reefer", and listening to "Dem Franchize Boys" and horseshit groups of that ilk instead of musical acts appropriate to his age like Count Basie, he suddenly wasn't an option.

I was stuck, which isn't a big deal because this is only a fucking blog, but I at least wanted to maintain some sort of regularity on this god forsaken site. Anyway, hungry as fuck, yesterday I went to the my local soul food restaurant called "Celeste's" that I frequent no more than once a month. It's not that the eatery is too expensive to go to multiple times in a 31 day period, the food is inexpensive and quite good, but because their food is greasy as fuck and my family has a history of heart attacks, hypertension, and diabetes, I make sure to see Mrs. Celeste as little as possible. That being said, I ventured into that particular eatery to get me some old fashion cholesterol, I mean soul food.

Behind the counter was Celeste, the owner of said restaurant who has to be no younger than 65, beautiful chocolate complected woman who I could just tell used to break hearts before I was born. She greeted me with a warm hello, walking around the counter to give me a tight embrace that pressed her nearly geriatric set of massive boobs against my chest, me wrestling with the guilt I felt getting a chubby from a woman in her 60's. She walked back behind the counter, and after I ordered the artery blocking fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, I said "Celeste, I'm doing something for my blog and I need you to give me one of your favorite artists of all time." She paused for a few moments, seeming happy that a person had asked her a question that wasn't the cost of the number 3 combination plate, smiled and said "Nina Simone". I don't remember what she was saying after that, yeah my hunger had me distracted, but as she glared off into space as she recalled the vivid memories of a singer that she adored, that was enough to feature her in my "old head" segment this week.

Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21st, 1933, was one of our great singers, songwriters and pianists. Her voice transcended many styles, blues, rhythm and blues, classical, soul, and jazz.(Even though she despised the term) Originally from North Carolina, growing up one of 8 siblings she was heavily influenced by the sounds of Marian Anderson, even performing at her local church as a kid. At her first recital at the age of 10, her parents were forced to sit at the back of the hall to make room for whites, an incident that many feel sparked her life long contribution to the civil rights movement. At 17 she moved to Philadelphia where she taught piano. She then studied piano at Julliard, but because of a lack of funds she soon had to abandoned that idea.

She soon adopted the name "Nina Simone" after she got a start in Atlantic City singing jazz.("Nina" was her boyfriend's nickname for her (from the Spanish for "little girl"), and "Simone" was after the French actress Simone Signoret) She first got noticed in 1959 with her rendition of George Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy"(from Porgy and Bess), which was soon followed by the single "My Baby Just Cares for Me". In the 60's she was heavily involved in the civil rights movement, recording songs including "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"(later covered by Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway), "Backlash Blues," "Mississippi Goddam"( a response to Medgar Evan's murder and the bombing of the church killing 4 little girls), and "I Wish I knew How It Would Feel to Be Free".

So many great songs and this post is long enough, with songs like "Sinnerman", "Here comes the Sun", "Feeling Good", "Love me or Leave Me", "I ain't got no life", "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl", "Do What You Gotta Do", "Keeper of the Flame", I can see why Celeste loves her so much. To get a sample of Nina Simone's music, check out my myspace page where I will sample a different song of hers until the next "Old head" segment.


Jonzee said...

"See Line Woman" is my favorite. I had her on my "20 performers to see before you die" list. I missed her by a year or so. So the live version of this song will have to do.

Breez said...

Her voice is haunting.

JamaicanQueen said...

Black is the color of my true loves hair and Pirate Jenny are to other songs by her that are wonderful.

msjaim said...

By far, See line woman is my ultimate fave from her! I have never heard the live version b4