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Nina Simone (1933-2003)

The music of Norah Jones owes a great deal to the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. 

To discover Nina Simone

Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in 1933 in North Carolina. From her earliest years she was a child prodigy, singing and playing in her Methodist-preacher mother’s church. After the Curtis Institute refused to grant her a scholarship, most likely due to racism, she chose the path of music. Adopting the stage name Nina Simone in homage to actress Simone Signoret, she was discovered by a record-label agent in a Philadelphia club. In 1959, her first recording, “I Loves You Porgy,” was also her first hit.

With her velvety voice and the emotional power of her songs, Nina Simone became one of the leading performers of her generation. Her version of “Sinnerman,” which she usually sang at the end of her concerts and which appeared on the album Pastel Blues (1965), played a large role in making her famous. Having learned the words as a child, she re-appropriated this gospel standard and produced a sublime, rhythmic cover that would become more popular than the original. 

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