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Nina Simone Dies

Jazz singer/pianist was seventy

Nina Simone, whose legendary singing career touched on jazz, folk,
pop, blues, R&B and gospel, died at her home in France today;
she was seventy.

Born Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933 in Tryon, North
Carolina, Simone got her start singing in church and taught herself
to play piano and organ by age seven. She attended New York’s
prestigious Julliard School of Music, before playing gigs along the
East Coast. In 1959 she scored her biggest hit, and only charting
pop single, with a version of George Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy”
from Porgy and Bess, which reached as high as Number
Eighteen.

Though she didn’t chart again, Simone remained popular
throughout the Sixties, and recorded some of her most enduring
songs during that decade, several of which became anthems for the
Civil Rights movement. Simone’s first protest song, “Mississippi
Goddam,” was inspired by the death of activist Medgar Evers.

The mid-Seventies were a difficult period during which Simone’s
audience began to decrease, and she retired from making music and
relocated to Switzerland, the U.K. and other locations. She
returned in 1978 with the release of Baltimore and
recorded and toured sporadically afterwards. A 1987 perfume
commercial that used her recording of “My Baby Just Cares for Me”
rekindled interest in Simone’s music, and Pete Townshend enlisted
her to sing on 1989’s The Iron Man, his musical based on
the children’s book by Ted Hughes.

In 1993 she relocated to the south of France, and that same year
she released her last studio recording, A Single
Woman
.

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