Tag Archives: Nina Simone

Nina Simone’s estate to Zoe Saldana: ‘Take Nina’s name out your mouth’

The estate of Nina Simone has spoken out after a trailer of the upcoming Simone biopic, ‘Nina,’ was released.

The trailer, released today, stars actress Zoe Saldana as Simone. The film’s production has remained controversial for several years since it was announced that Saldana was to play Simone, a jazz singer, pianist, activist and songwriter, also known as the High Priestess of Soul.

In a story on the Guardian‘s website, Saldana has been seen on the set wearing dark makeup and a prosthetic nose. The backlash has come down hard. Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has continuously disavowed the film due to its casting choice.

Today, the Twitter account representing Simone’s estate tweeted to Saldana:

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 9.25.51 PM

The account also posted a link to a Simone interview, called “That Blackness,” where Simone talks about black culture and how she’s dedicated to helping black students  who feel alienated in white colleges:

“To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world,” Simone says in the clip.

Simone’s Twitter account also posted a link today to Simone’s performance of “Go To Hell,” recorded in 1968 at The Bitter End in New York City. Some of the lines in “Go To Hell”:

“If your mind lies in the devil’s workshop/evil doins your thrill/ and trouble and mischief is all you live for/ you know damn well /that you’ll go to hell

Now you living high and mighty / rich off the fat of this land
Please don’t dispose of your natural soul / cause you know damn well that you’ll go to hell”

In 2013, Zaldana responded to the backlash that was already building at the time, saying in part, “I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free.”

So far Saldana hasn’t directly responded. ‘Nina’ is due for release in April. Read more on the story at the Washington Post.

Watch the trailer for ‘Nina’ below:

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Filed under Biopics, Blues, Jazz, Soul, Uncategorized, VIdeos

The majesty of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring”

Nina Simone

I recently discovered singer/songwriter Nina Simone by accident, while searching for James Brown music on Youtube.

Simone was a classically-trained jazz pianist, who succeeded in not pigeonholing herself into any genre. She performed standard covers with emotional original arrangements. Hearing her sing on a loving “Brown Baby” hooked me on her sultry voice, dark and mellow. She also sounded defiant and full of spite, as on the scathing “Backlash Blues” in later years, when she championed civil-rights causes.

So I bought a Nina Simone ‘greatest hits’ CD —— ‘Nina: The Essential Nina Simone —— to dip my toe in the water. One song that stood out for me was ‘Plain Gold Ring,’ about a woman pining for a married man.

She sings plainly at first– she knows he’s not going to be available, and she’s resigned to that fact. Before the second verse though, she cries out a regal ‘oh’ which extends into a plaintive anthem where you can almost see her riding a cold ocean, waiting for the man who never comes. It’s clear that wanting what she can’t have is going to keep her from living.

The stark drums march the tune along as her repeating piano melody keeps step. As she sings the chorus at the end, her voice fades into the dark. I love to listen to it.

While surfing the Tube, I found Kimbra’s version of this song. I’m aghast at Kimbra‘s take, in which she  unabashedly uses an Audacity-type voice editor. It’s so sterile when up against Simone’s.

It’s not possible to really compare these two versions of ‘Plain Gold Ring,’ but you can try:

Let me know what you think.

‘Plain Gold Ring’:

Dig It or Ditch It: Dig Simone’s version, Ditch Kimbra’s.

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Filed under Blues, Jazz, Remake, Uncategorized, VIdeos