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Nina Simone

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@MikeMorrell and @everybody
This probably seemed a bit random, Mike mentioned in the BOTM thread that Porgy was his favourite song sung by Nina Simone. I heard this song and posted it. I was trying to find a recording I heard a long time ago where she was playing two songs at the same time, but couldn't find it. @rhysonsax also mentioned which key she was performing Porgy in, she was able to change to any key she wished and would sometimes tell the band which key it was in just as they were about to start playing. usually one they weren't expecting. her guitarist also has this talent.
 

MarkSax

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She behaved like a Diva and the drugs, alcohol and personal nightmares got the best of her. But on a good day she was better than most, certainly better than some of the ‘superstars ‘ of today. I saw her live, I think in 1988. She befuddled the major part of the 50 minute gig but when she sang ‘Sweet love’ the whole world disappeared around me. A wonderful memory only tainted by the rest of her performance.
 
OP
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She behaved like a Diva and the drugs, alcohol and personal nightmares got the best of her. But on a good day she was better than most, certainly better than some of the ‘superstars ‘ of today. I saw her live, I think in 1988. She befuddled the major part of the 50 minute gig but when she sang ‘Sweet love’ the whole world disappeared around me. A wonderful memory only tainted by the rest of her performance.
I saw the a good documentary about her, can't remember what it was called, she was a very angry lady and also came across at times as not being very pleasant.
But she was still wonderful in my rose tinted glasses
 

MikeMorrell

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I haven't watched or read any of the biographies or documentaries on Nina Simone but from what I've picked up from the 'reviews":
- she suffered from mental health problems (diagnoses vary, but she certainly had a bipolar disorder (manic depression) and probably a borderline personality disorder); either - and certainly both - of these would account for her bouts of depression, violent outbursts and her reputation of being 'difficult' to work with. She'd been hospitalized (straightjacket) at least once. Though she reluctantly started medication for 'mood disorders' in the 1960's. I've no idea how reliably she took them nor how effective they were.
- she initially wanted to traIn as a classical pianist and - despite a good audition at the Juilliard School - she was refused entry, in her opinion because of her skin colour; so she was 'forced' into playing - and later singing - 'the devil's music' in nightclubs; she later became an activist in the struggle for racial equality
- She also married a tough New York cop who psychologically and physically abused her

So my take-away from all this is that she had plenty to be unhappy and angry about. Due to her (long undiagnosed) mental health problems her behaviour ranged from withdrawal to unpredictable violent outbursts to psychotic episodes. Given her 'life challenges' it's remarkable that she achieved so much so often and left such a legacy.

Mike

I saw the a good documentary about her, can't remember what it was called, she was a very angry lady and also came across at times as not being very pleasant.
But she was still wonderful in my rose tinted glasses
 

Veggie Dave

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I saw the a good documentary about her, can't remember what it was called, she was a very angry lady and also came across at times as not being very pleasant.
Considering the world she, and a few million other Americans, lived in; surrounded by a good few million more who intentionally made the lives of people like her hell - a world where anyone who looked like her could be publicly lynched, could be roasted alive for hours in front of a cheering mob of adults and children before images of their roasted corpse was then turned into very popular postcards, I'd be pretty angry, too, and would probably be less than tolerant (rightly or wrongly) of people trying to impose their ideas upon me, even if it's just how much milk to have in my tea. Let's face it, simply writing 'Mississippi Goddam' was an act of incredible bravery - thousands had been lynched for much less.

And that's before we consider the violent abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband.

Throw in mental illness, either caused by the world in which she lived or by her own body, and you have a very lonely lady with an amazing talent who struggled with human interaction, even with her own daughter.

When I think how grumpy I get when I start a rehearsal only to find my reed's died, I think she handled it all remarkably well. ;)
 

saxyjt

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I read a couple of biographies of her and find she's a fascinating character. I didn't remember mental health issues, but as mentioned above how can you not be disturbed by the life she had. Being a talented black woman in those days must have been terribly frustrating. Then people of such extraordinary talents often struggle to fit in.

Anyways, I'm a great admirer of the lady for her artistic legacy as well as her amazing contribution to the black Americans' cause.
 

randulo

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At the end of the documentary, they mention that days before her death, she was awarded an honorary diploma from the music school that originally refused her entry, Curtis Institute of Music.
 
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