Jazz and blues singer, Nina Simone had one of the most instantly recognizable voices of her time. Her live performances were intense and legendary. Norah Jones, India.Arie, Peter Gabriel, Sade and Aretha Franklin have all paid tribute to the influence that Nina Simone has had on their own careers.
She was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon at Tryon in North Carolina at a time of deep rooted racial prejudice. She studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York but was refused a scholarship by the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia. This forced her to carve out a living in the bars in Atlantic City where she developed her vocal talent and inimitable style.
Her first album, in 1958, was a phenomenal debut, including "I Loves You, Porgy", her first million seller, and "My Baby Just Cares For Me". In the next four years she recorded seven outstanding albums which presented an insight into the anger and political conscience of Nina Simone. She became the voice of the civil rights movement with songs including ''Mississippi Goddam,'' and later, ''To Be Young, Gifted and Black.'' After the killing of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., she recorded "Why? The King of Love Is Dead."
She left America at the end of the 1960s, claiming that she could no longer tolerate the racism. For the next 25 years she moved around the globe, living in Barbados, Liberia, Egypt, Turkey, Holland and Switzerland before she finally settled in Aix-en-Provence in 1994. During this period she still had significant success with albums including "Baltimore" in 1978, and some commercial singles such as "Ain't Got No -- I Got Life", from the musical "Hair", and a cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody". In the Eighties she found a new generation of fans when "My Baby Just Cares for Me" was used in a television advert.
She had suffered from ill-health for several years and employed a live-in nurse. But she continued to perform, last appearing in Britain in August 2001 at the Bishopstock Festival.