This week's edition of #blackjoy is Miss Nina Simone!
As a child, I remember hearing the magical melodies of Nina play off of my uncles old stereo Strange Fruit, and I put a Spell on you were my introduction to Ms. Nina, but as I got older, I learned that there was so so so much more.
Nina Simone was born to a mother who was a minister and a father who was a handyman in rural North Carolina. Her childhood was filled with dreams of being a concert pianist, but at the age of 21, she found herself denied admission from her school of choice with no explanation given. Shortly after this, she began singing (under a stage name in hopes that her mother wouldn't find out).
Here are some other facts about Ms. Nina that you might not know
- She was a fierce activist throughout her life; she always said she was "a rebel with a cause."
- She lived next door to Malcolm X and protested along with Dr. King.
- She was very conscious and outspoken about colorism in our society.
- She was a classical artist first and foremost.
- At times, her songs were banned in the South, denied from individual stations, and in many ways, her activism cost her career.
- Her first act of public protest was at the young age of 12 when she refused to play the piano unless her parents were allowed to sit with the rest of the audience instead of the back of the church due to segregation.
- She had bipolar disorder.
- She was awarded two honorary doctorate degrees and was then awarded a degree by the same music school that derailed her classical dreams all those years ago.
We've started putting together Spotify playlist to accompany our #Blackjoy posts we will add to them each week with songs, excerpts of speeches, or influential music to our featured icon.
You can find our first one on Ms. Nina here
You might notice that we left out a few of Nina's most impactful and powerful songs. Not because we felt that they were not important but because they contain content that should be presented consciously to little ones therefore we left these songs off to allow parents to make a conscious choice of when and how they introduce these songs and the themes contained therein to their children.
We hope you enjoy the playlist! Let us know if we should add any of your favorites by Nina!