Eunice Kathleen Waymon AKA Ms Nina Simone was an American singer songwriter and pianist who crossed musical genres and was also actively involved in the civil rights movement. Apart from her obvious talent, as writers we are attracted to Ms Simone’s feist, her insistence, her complexities and her ‘moments’ shall we call them. It is what makes her Nina Simone. It is what makes her someone who would probably never see the dotted lines of a music contract had she been around today trying to be 100% herself in an entertainment world of saccharine, PR handled, heavily edited, blandness.
This fiery volcano of a woman from an artistic perspective epitomises what we proselytize at The Home Style Directory. We care not what genre or niche masterful creativity originates from. And whilst her work will always be there for all to appreciate, we are enraptured by the end-of-an-evening band stories and anecdotes that build the perhaps embellished, iconic and unofficial picture of a star, but are usually so much more fun than the official bio’s you can read anywhere.
One can only do this however with the heavy hitters of the entertainment world. Stars of certain magnitude like Ms Simone, Mr Keith Moon, Mr Bob Marley, Mr Jimi Hendrix, Mr Frank Sinatra. Because they possessed, unlike so many current interlopers, backbone, fight, spirit and history whilst exuding mega watt personality and charisma and not too inefficient traces of talent. We give you then our chronicle profile of Ms Nina Simone.
Story teller: The Ed
I used to work by Ronnie Scotts, the famous UK jazz club in central London. I also know a few ‘cats’ (lol) in the entertainment industry and one of my favourite stories about Ms Simone – direct from the owner of Ronnie Scotts, if memory serves me well – was that she had a gig one evening and if you know that part of London, you’ll know that there is an open market nearby and a small Sainsburys type supermarket there – can’t remember which, but In my lunch hour I used to go shopping there all the time.
When it was time for the gig, Lady Simone was nowhere to be found. The band were already on stage jamming a little and the search was on. Where is Ms Simone? Now the club is not a big club, it is small and intimate and you really get a feel of an artist in a place like that. Anyways after some anxious time, the audience was getting restless and there was lots of shrugging and shaking of heads by managers and roadies alike, Miss Simone emerges from the back of the club from the punters entrance.
She walks past her audience with about 5 bags of shopping from the supermarket which she duly takes up on stage and plants by the foot of the piano where they stay for the whole gig. She nods to her musicians as if having your eggs and soap powder on stage with you was completely normal and the show begins. Who does that!!!? That woman was as raw and real as the sun and for that I love her!
Story teller: Mr Tom Schnabel
A friend and colleague of mine was working at RCA Records in New York in the 1960s. Nina recorded for Bethlehem, Philips, RCA, and, later on, Verve. She made an appointment to see my friend the RCA executive, went into his office, sat down, pulled a revolver out of her purse and putting it onto his desk, told him “Hello, I’m here to discuss my royalty payments!”
Story teller; Journal Of International Women’s Studies
More and more over the years, audiences tested Simone’s patience. On one early recording she can be heard teasing the chatty crowd: “You just don’t want to know what’s in my mind, so do you mind?” She laughs a bit, returning with: “Which one do you want? Do you want me to ask you to be quiet? Or would you rather I rely on your own sense of taste?”
NINA SIMONE: The Bio pic
It would probably not be right that a bio film about Ms Nina Simone would appear without spirited stirrings of some kind. The casting of actress Ms Zoe Saldana to play Ms Nina Simone in an upcoming unofficial biography has stirred up many arguments that some people have an understanding of and embrace and some do not. In a nutshell, much of Ms Simone’s life and career was moulded by the fact that she was Black. Truly and unabashedly Black. When she tried to get into the Curtis Institute of Music she apparently was later made aware that she was refused because she was Black.
Story teller; Journal Of International Women’s Studies
Simone claims to have been unaware of racism until her first town recital, at age eleven, when her parents were asked to give up their front row seats to a white family. “Like switching on a light,” her innocent assumption that all white people were like Miss Massinovitch her piano tutor was crudely disproved. And so the young Eunice Waymon at the piano stood up, refusing to play.
This propelled Nina Simone’s career. She recalls in her autobiography how her parents, despite being allowed to keep their seats, were not proud but embarrassed. She felt “cut raw” yet “the skin grew back again a little tougher, a little less innocent, and a little more black”. So music, gospel and classical, informed Eunice Waymon’s first sense of herself. And then there was racism. And then there was Nina Simone.
Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone
The anti Saldana’s do not want someone quite so comfortably and aesthetically ‘acceptable’ to white mainstream constructs of a what a Black woman is to portray her. The fact that Ms Saldana has to wear prosthetics to ‘black-ify’ herself is grist to their mill and the charge led by none other than Ms Simone’s daughter Ms Lisa Simone Kelly, is that perhaps the audition process could have taken on board a number of capable actresses who also look the part.
On the other hand singer actress Ms Jill Scott summarized some of the support for Ms Saldana, ‘I think that there should be some work done, like a prosthetic nose would be helpful and definitely some darker makeup. If Forest Whittaker can become darker in “The Last King Of Scotland” then I believe Nina should be treated with that respect. She was very adamant about her color, about her nose, about her shape and her self and there needs to be some homage paid to that.’
The movie debate rages on. After Ms Mary J Blige as the first option dropped out the suggestions for her replacement have included Ms India Arie to Ms Taraji P Henson to Ms Viola Davis. It will be an interesting ride to the conclusion.