FILM 1470: WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?
A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the "High Priestess of Soul."
TRIVIA: Nina Simone was born on February 21, 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, USA as Eunice Kathleen Waymon. She was married to Andrew Stroud and Donald Ross. She died on April 21, 2003 in Carry-le-Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhône, France.
Sixth of seven children. She Studied at Julliard School of Music in New York.
Her professional name is a combination of Nina ("little one"), from an Hispanic boyfriend, and Simone from French film actress Simone Signoret.
In 1995 she was given a suspended eight-month jail term after firing a scatter-gun at a pair of noisy teenagers playing next to her home in Bouc-Bel-Air near Aix-en-Provence. That same year she was fined $US 5,000 for leaving the scene of a car accident that had occurred in 1993.
SIMONE STANDARDS: Throughout her career, Simone assembled a collection of songs that would later become standards in her repertoire. Some were songs that she wrote herself, while others were new arrangements of other standards, and others had been written especially for the singer. Her first hit song in America was her rendition of George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy" (1958). It peaked at number 18 in the pop singles chart and number 2 on the black singles chart. During that same period Simone recorded "My Baby Just Cares for Me", which would become her biggest success years later, in 1987, after it was featured in a 1986 Chanel No. 5 perfume commercial. A music video was also created by Aardman Studios. Well known songs from her Philips albums include "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" on Broadway-Blues-Ballads (1964), "I Put a Spell on You", "Ne me quitte pas" (a rendition of a Jacques Brel song) and "Feeling Good" on I Put a Spell On You (1965), "Lilac Wine" and "Wild Is the Wind" on Wild is the Wind (1966).
"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "Feeling Good", and "Sinner Man" (Pastel Blues, 1965) have remained popular in terms of cover versions (most notably a version of the former song by The Animals), sample usage, and its use on soundtracks for various movies, TV-series, and video games. "Sinner Man" has been featured in the TV series Scrubs, Person of Interest, The Blacklist, and Sherlock, and on movies such as The Thomas Crown Affair, Miami Vice, and Inland Empire, and sampled by artists such as Talib Kweli and Timbaland. The song "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" was sampled by Devo Springsteen on "Misunderstood" from Common's 2007 album Finding Forever, and by little-known producers Rodnae and Mousa for the song "Don't Get It" on Lil Wayne's 2008 album Tha Carter III. "See-Line Woman" was sampled by Kanye West for "Bad News" on his album 808s & Heartbreak. The 1965 rendition of "Strange Fruit" originally by Billie Holiday was sampled by Kanye West for "Blood on the Leaves" on his album Yeezus.
Simone's years at RCA-Victor spawned a number of singles and album tracks that were popular, particularly in Europe. In 1968, it was "Ain't Got No, I Got Life", a medley from the musical Hair from the album 'Nuff Said! (1968) that became a surprise hit for Simone, reaching number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and introducing her to a younger audience. In 2006, it returned to the UK Top 30 in a remixed version by Groovefinder.
The following single, a rendition of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody", also reached the UK Top 10 in 1969. "The House of the Rising Sun" was featured on Nina Simone Sings the Blues in 1967, but Simone had recorded the song in 1961 and it was featured on Nina at the Village Gate (1962), predating the versions by Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan. It was later covered by The Animals, for whom it became a signature hit.
Simone's bearing and stage presence earned her the title "High Priestess of Soul". She was a piano player, singer and performer, "separately and simultaneously". As a composer and arranger, Simone moved from gospel to blues, jazz, and folk, and to numbers with European classical styling. Besides using Bach-style counterpoint, she called upon the particular virtuosity of the 19th-century Romantic piano repertoire—Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and others. Onstage, she incorporated monologues and dialogues with the audience into the program, and often used silence as a musical element. She compared it to "mass hypnosis. I use it all the time". Throughout most of her life and recording career she was accompanied by percussionist Leopoldo Fleming and guitarist and musical director Al Schackman.