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Nina Simone Biography

  • Profession: Actor, Featured Music, Songwriter
  • Born: Feb 21, 1933
  • Died: Apr 21, 2003

With her unmistakable, raspy voice and hypnotically unclassifiable style, Nina Simone's influence crosses almost as many boundaries as the jazz chanteuse herself. Crisscrossing musical genres, usually in the confines of a single album, Simone would ultimately become most closely associated with soul and jazz. Born the sixth of eight siblings in Tryon, NC, Simone studied at New York's Juilliard School of Music in hopes of establishing herself as a classical pianist. Working as an accompanist and offering piano lessons as a means to make ends meet while she was still a student, it was while auditioning for a position as a pianist at an Atlantic City nightclub that Simone's true abilities were discovered. Simone was told that the position was hers if she could sing in addition to playing, and soon after agreeing to those terms Simone's reputation as a performer to watch out for was soon growing. Simone began recording in the late '50s, and by the early '60s, the tireless performer had recorded nine albums for release on the Candix label. Her work for Phillips during the mid-'60s is often considered her best, and after remaining a prolific performer in the early '70s, Simone's personal life began to fall on hard times. Relocating to Europe following her divorce from husband/manager Andy Stroud, Simone lived a somewhat nomadic existence before settling in Bouc-Bel-Air in the mid-'70s. Though she had vowed never to return to the United States due to her experience with record companies and the racial climate that existed at the time, popular demand would find the singer returning to her native soil in the late '90s, to the delight of fans. In the world of cinema, many films made use of Simone's recordings, including such efforts as Point of No Return (1993), Shallow Grave (1994), and Stealing Beauty (1996). The films Brel (1982) and Playboy: The Party Continues (2000) also offered rare interviews and archival appearances of the much-beloved diva. Simone gave birth to a daughter, named Lisa Celeste, in 1962, and wrote an autobiography entitled I Put a Spell on You in 1991. On April 21, 2003, Nina Simone died of natural causes at her home in Carry-le-Rouet, France. She was 70. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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