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Nina Simone

Her musical style arose from a fusion of gospel and pop songs with classical music, in particular with influences from her first inspiration, Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied with her expressive jazz-like singing in her characteristic contralto. She injected as much of her classical background into her music as possible to give it more depth and quality, as she felt that pop music was inferior to classical. Her intuitive grasp on the audience-performer relationship was gained from a unique background of playing piano accompaniment for church revivals and sermons regularly from the early age of six years old.

Eunice Kathleen Waymon was born on February 21, 1933 in Tyron North Carolina. She was born the sixth child of eight children and in a poor family. While growing up in that lifestyle, Eunice was aspired to become a concert pianist. Because she was the preacher’s kid in the church Eunice would perform in her local church. The first time she would perform in a concert was when she was twelve. During her first performance Eunice parents was forced to give their front row seat to a Caucasian and were sent to the back row. Simone refused to play until her parents were back to their regular seats. With experiencing that kind of case, it would contribute to her later dedication in the civil rights movement. After finishing high school, she went for an interview at the Curtis Institute, but was rejected. Eunice believed that this rejection was because of her ethnicity. Eunice then moved to New York City, where she studied at the Juilliard School of Music. To fund her private lessons Eunice performed at Midtown bar& grill on pacific avenue in Atlantic City, whose owner insisted that she sing as well as she play the piano. In 1954 she adopted the stage name Nina Simone. "Nina" (from Niña, meaning 'little girl' in Spanish) was a nickname a boyfriend had given to her, and "Simone" was taken from the French actress Simone Signoret, whom she...
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