Nina Simone

Nina Simone (1933-1903), was an American singer, songwriter and pianist. She also worked as an arranger and civil rights activist. Simone was Eunice Kathleen Waymon’s daughter, and she was one of eight children. As with many other black singers in America, Simone was inspired by Marian Anderson as a child and began singing at her church. She also had great talent as pianist. At ten years old, she made her public debut as a pianist. Her parents, who were in the front row, were forced from their seats to make room for white people. This incident led to her involvement in civil rights movements later on. Simone’s mother Mary Kate Waymon, who lived to her late nineties, was a strict Methodist minister. Her father John Divine Waymon was a handyman and occasional barber who had suffered from ill-health. Mrs Waymon was a maid and her employer heard about Nina’s talents and provided piano lessons for the girl. A local fund was established to support Eunice’s education. Simone, then seventeen years old, moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she was able to teach piano and accompany singers. Although she was able to study piano at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, her dreams of becoming America’s first Black classical pianist were not realized due to a lack of funds. Later, she was invited to interview for the Curtis Institute to study piano. However, she was turned down. Simone believed that her rejection of the Curtis Institute, which fuelled her hatred for racism, was because Simone was black. After getting her start at Midtown Bar, Simone moved to jazz and blues.

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