HAPPY BIRTHDAY NINA SIMONE-THE JAZZ LEGEND

ILLUSTRATION BY T.S. ABE (This text originally appeared in "Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls" by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo)

N

ina was a gifted, proud girl. When her mum was at church, Nina unnoticed climbed up the organ bench and learned to play “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.” She was three years old then. When she was five years old, her mother`s employer offered to pay for piano lessons and Nina started training to become a classical pianist. She was committed, hardworking, and hugely talented.

At twelve, she gave her first concert. Her parents were sitting in the front row, but they were forced to move to the back of the hall to make room for some white people who came in. Nina refused to start playing until her parents were seated at the front. Nina poured her passion and pride into her music and she could not stand racism. She wanted black people to be proud, to be free, to embrace their talents and their passions, free of judgement. That`s why she wrote songs like “Brown Baby” or “Young, Gifted and Black.” Nina Simone knew how racism hurt black people, and she wanted them to find strength her songs. “The worst thing about that kind of prejudice” she said “is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds your self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough.”

Nina decided to cultivate her talent, rather than her fear, and eventually she became one of the most famous jazz singers in the world. Today, would have marked her 85th birthday.


” I TELL YOU WHAT FREEDOM

IS TO ME: NO FEAR.”

– NINA SIMONE –

FEBRUARY 21, 1933 – APRIL 21. 2003