“Central Park Blues” (1958) written by Nina Simone. From her debut album ‘Little Girl Blue’. While best remembered for her vocal talents, Nina shows off her considerable chops at the piano.
On the same album her cover of “I Loves You Porgy” from the opera ‘Porgy and Bess’ (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin). This would be her highest ranking hit on Billboard at #18 on the Pop chart and #5 on the R&B. The video clip shows how brilliant she was and how effortless her piano playing appears, she was quite remarkable.
Born in North Carolina, Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) she was a student at the Juilliard School of Music. She changed her name when she was performing in nightclubs in Atlantic City, which is when she started to add vocals to her piano playing. She was really only interested in classical music and studies, so performing using pop music and later recording (income) was used to pursue just that.
Simone was deeply involved in the civil rights movement in the early 1960’s and beyond and she produced some powerful protest songs. “Mississippi Goddam“,
“Four Women” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black“(Weldon Irvine, Nina Simone). Aretha Franklin recorded this last song and it was the inspiration for her Album ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ released in 1972. “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” was also covered by a young Reg Dwight (Elton John) released in 1970.
Nina Simone produced 40 albums but did not gain significant popularity until a few years just before her death giving her more well deserved (financial) security. Simone died in her sleep after suffering with Breast Cancer for several years. She did more amazing covers of songs such as “Baltimore” originally by Randy Newman, “To Love Somebody” from the Bee Gees and in 1961″The House of the Rising Sun” made famous by ‘The Animals’ in 1964. This song is classified as a ‘traditional’ American folk song and has a long and interesting history, the first persevered recording is from 1933 “Rising Sun Blues” by Ashley and Foster.
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