Eunice Waymon, known to most as Nina Simone, was an exceptional singer, songwriter, composer, and all-around musician. Her first foray into the world of music began at the ripe age of three, when she took up classical piano lessons with the intent of becoming the first Black, female classical pianist in America. Though never appointed this title, she went on to accomplish so much more. Beginning her singing career in Atlantic City nightclubs, she gained traction instantaneously, and soon after took on an unprecedented role in the music industry, with a sound so unique that it earned her the epithet of High Priestess of Soul.
Simone garnered international acclaim not only for her voice, but for her effervescent, almost palpable stage presence. She found a way to bridge the gaps between jazz, blues, and classical music in a way that both tapped into her spirit and spoke to the Black experience. With songs like “Backlash Blues” and “Mississippi Goddam,” she served the Civil Rights Movement in the best and only way she knew how: with her voice. Performing at monumental events such as the 1965 March on Selma, Simone played a pivotal role in the movement, and was uber-aware of this. Despite the prospect of threat to her career, she saw the movement through to the very end.
Simone’s work is still as relevant today as it was during her time, given the current state of America’s sociopolitical climate. Her unrelenting pursuit of equality, coupled with the weight of her voice, made her the force she is known as today. Join L’OFFICIEL in celebrating what would’ve been the singer’s 88th birthday, as we revisit some of her most moving and inspirational quotes.