Monday, February 21, 2011

"Love Me Or Leave Me" by Nina Simone

Not only was the late Nina Simone (who was born on this day in 1933) difficult to categorize as an artist, as a woman she was similarly defiant - recalcitrant even; the effect of growing up when she did, as a black woman in the United States, appears to have left her increasingly embittered and hostile as she grew older. Although surrounded by fans - many of them gay men - until her death in April 2003, her hostility towards those fans made their devotion a challenge.

Still, sometimes someone needs to be a jerk (especially when being nice isn't yielding appreciable results) and Nina Simone threw herself into this aspect of her activism with zeal. With such songs in her repertoire as Mississippi Goddam, Strange Fruit, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, and Sinnerman Simone savaged blacks and whites alike for their role in the perpetuation of racism.

Yet as both a singer and a pianist she was also a gifted interpreter of jazz standards, such as I Put a Spell on You, Little Girl Blue, and You'll Never Walk Alone.
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