Nina Simone – The Queen of Blues

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This princess was loved, brilliant, her voice was totally different, dynamic star, a genius. Simone sang Blues, Jazz, R&B, Folk and Gospel, but, for me and for many others, she was the one and only Queen of Blues. She was not only a singer that wanted to show her talent to people and make money and go. She wanted more and she has become one of the voices of Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. She wrote “Mississippi Goddam” in response to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist from Decatur, Mississippi, and the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young African-American girls. Some of these girls were friends with Angela Davis.

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Well, but let’s not get distracted! We will focus on Nina Simone who were born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina and died on April 21, 2003 at age 70. She was exposed to music at an early age. She learned how to play piano at the age of 4 and she also used to sing in her church’s choir. Simone grew up poor. Her music teacher helped establish a special fund to pay for Simone’s education and, after finishing high school, Simone won a scholarship to New York City’s famed Juilliard School of Music to train as a classical pianist.

Nina Simone once asked, how can you be an artist and not reflect the time?  After the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Simone pimped her pen and wrote “Why (The King of Love Is Dead).” She also composed “Young, Gifted and Black”, which became a popular anthem at the time.

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Nina Simone was not a simple, ordinary singer. She was lively and she got on stage she would transform into the queen that the world had already heard of.  However, if you want to know more about Nina Simone’s discography and biography, I would highly recommend Nina Simone Website.  Whoa, and you should not miss this amazing movie/documentary that is about to start on Netflix. Check out the trailer:

Nina Simone is appreciated for her voice and intelligent lyrics as well as her talent on the piano. One of the greatest rappers alive, Lil’ Wayne, has used her music as a bridge and I personally love it. See it for yourself:

Baby understand me now
If sometimes you see that I’m mad
Don’t you know no one alive can always be an angel
When everything goes wrong, you see some bad…
But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Well, the song Mississippi Goddamn was the expression of her feelings for what was going on in that time in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. It is one of my favorite. “A show tune, but the show hasn’t been written for it yet.” In 1964, this protest song was banned in several southern states. Check it out:

“Mississippi Goddam”

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Washing the windows
“do it slow”
Picking the cotton
“do it slow”
You’re just plain rotten
“do it slow”
You’re too damn lazy
“do it slow”
The thinking’s crazy
“do it slow”
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying “Go slow!”
“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Desegregation
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
Reunification
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That’s it!

Well, to finish this post, I selected the one that still makes me shed tears. This is a masterpiece and I am happy to be able to share this amazing song and message with you all. Have a great life and love your neighbor!

“Why (The King of Love Is Dead).”

Once upon this planet earth,
Lived a man of humble birth,
Preaching love and freedom for his fellow man,

He was dreaming of a day,
Peace would come to earth to stay,
And he spread this message all across the land.

Turn the other cheek he’d plead,
Love thy neighbor was his creed,
Pain humiliation death, he did not dread

With his Bible at his side,
From his foes he did not hide,
It’s hard to think that this great man is dead. (Oh yes)

Will the murders never cease,
Are they men or are they beasts?
What do they ever hope, ever hope to gain?

Will my country fall, stand or fall?
Is it too late for us all?
And did Martin Luther King just die in vain?

Cos he’d seen the mountain top,
And he knew he could not stop,
Always living with the threat of death ahead.

Folks you’d better stop and think
Cos we’re heading for the brink.
What will happen now that he is dead?

He was for equality,
For all people you and me,
Full of love and good will, hate was not his way.

He was not a violent man.
Tell me folks if you can,
Just why, why was he shot down the other day?

Well see he’d seen, the mountain top.
And he knew he could not stop,
Always living with the threat of death ahead.

Folks you’d better stop and think…and feel again,
For we’re heading for the brink.
What’s gonna happen now that the king of love is dead?

What is your favorite song by Nina Simone? Share it with us on the comments!

This material has been selected, adapted, analyzed, and put together by Rodrigo P. Honorato

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