Author(s): David Brun-Lambert
'I will die at 70 because afterwards there is nothing but pain.' And sure enough Nina Simone was 70 years old when she died in the South of France after a lifetime's quest for serenity, which forever eluded her. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in North Carolina at the tail-end of the Great Depression, she was a precocious child with dreams of becoming the first black classical soloist, but was rejected by an elite New York conservatoire she always believed it was because of the colour of her skin. She began performing jazz, blues and classical songs in a bar to fund her studies, taking the stage name Nina Simone in 1954 to prevent her mother finding out she was playing 'the devil's music'. In 1958 her rendition of the Gershwin standard 'I Loves You Porgy' became her only US Top 40 hit, and her subsequent debut album Little Girl Blue was a success. Her passionate belief in racial equality and civil rights saw her become increasingly radicalised in the 1960s, addressing the issue on record and on stage in songs such as 'Mississippi Goddam' and her version of 'Strange Fruit'. She went into self-imposed exile from America in 1970, settling in Barbados and then France. Nina Simone recorded over 40 albums, wrote some of the best-known popular songs in the canon and gave concerts described as quasi-religious experiences. This is the first biography to tell her whole extraordinary story. David Brun-Lambert is a highly regarded French writer and broadcaster.
David Brun-Lambert is a highly regarded French writer and broadcaster.