Nina Simone

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Sep 25 07:58:03 MDT 1999

>George: I have beeb just listening to a CD of Nina Simone's. She is a
performer that
>impresses me. My favoiurite track on the CD Wild is the Wind. In this love
song her voice
>expresses great emotional depth and breadth.
>I wonder whehter there any Nina Simone sites.Do you know much about her/
>Warm regards
>George Pennefather

Very spooky. The minute I opened this email, Nina Simone was singing Duke
Ellington's "I got it bad and that ain't good" on WFMU, an alternative
radio station in NYC. Nina Simone, for comrade's information, is a very
great African-American singer-pianist who enjoyed her greatest popularity
in the 1960s. She has a passionate contralto voice and is a unique stylist.
Along with Charlie Mingus, she was one of the first black musicians to
begin using her performances to denounce segregation in the south. Her
"Mississippi Goddamn" is a classic.

>From an interview that appears on a top-notch website on Nina:
Q: Maybe if you lived in America instead of the south of France, you'd have
more knowledge of your current popular resurgence here.
A: I don't like America, I never did, and I don't want to go back unless I
have to.

Q: I thought you were going to tour this coming year. Anyway, what do you
have against America?
A: I think they'll sell themselves, their souls, and their brothers,
sisters, and mothers for money. And prejudice there is so insidious and
subtle--I've never seen anything like it! It's gotten crazy with so many
skinheads, everybody gone mad, bang-bang shot dead--I don't know what's
happened to the world.

Q: Is that why, after all your high-profile civil-rights work in the '60s,
you left the U.S. pretty much permanently in the early '70s?
A: I left because I didn't feel that black people were going to get their
due, and I still don't.

Q: In the late '60s, your song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" was declared
by the Congress of Racial Equality to be the black national anthem.
A: Yes, and then black America promptly refused it.

Q: How so?
A: You mean "Why so?" I don't know why--it's just that they're pretty

Q: Bacqkwards, hmm... I guess you don't feel much was accomplished in the
A: After Martin Luther King and Malcom X got killed, after Lorraine
Hansberry and Langston Hughes and Medgar Evers died, and after Stockley
Carmichael and Miriam Makeba went to Africa, yes, I felt the movement died.

Q: So you moved to Africa. How'd you feel when you got there?
A: That I was at home. I took off my shoes and walked in the dirt streets,
smelled all the smells... They didn't event want me to sing over there,
they just wanted me to have a good time! I felt thoroughly at home there.

Q: So much so that in your book you say that on your third night there, you
danced buck naked in a nightclub for two hours.
A: (laughs) Yes. I don't particularly like clothes, and when I get a chance
to be happy and dance with friends around me, I take them off and I dance.

Q: And at age sixty-three, do you still do that?
A: Well, not here in the south of France.

Q: You've been married and divorced and had many romances. Do you still get
A: I had an intense love affair with a Tunisian boy last year, but I don't
think I want to get involved for a long time again because he opened me up
like a volcano, and it almost put me under.

Q: I'm happy to hear you have friends, because I recently read a quote of
yours that said "I don't like people that much." Why's that?
A: Because they're basically undeveloped, stupid, and not very
knowledgeable about anything--they don't think for themselves and they're
not honest.

Q: I see. And is the same true for yourself?  What do you mean? I'm very

Q: You certainly are. People play your songs when they're feeling bad. What
do they hook into?
A: I feel what they feel. And people who listen to me know that, and it
makes them feel like they're not alone.

Q: How would you like to be remembered?  I want to be remembered as a diva
from beginning to end who never compromised in
A: what she felt about racism and how the world should be, and who to the
end of her days consistently stayed the same.

Q: But isn't life about evolving and changing?
A: Not for me.

Louis Proyect

More information about the Marxism mailing list