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Nina Simone was one of the most extraordinary artists of the twentieth century who earned the title “High Priestess of Soul” because of her soulful, seductive and hypnotic songs which made listeners lose track of time as they got completely absorbed into her music.
The sixth child of a preacher’s family in North Carolina, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. She was a budding classical pianist when she was rejected for her race by the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia where she went to study piano further.
However, she studied at the Juilliard School of Music, New York later and became one of the top American singers who sang a mix of jazz, blues and folk music.
She made the world fall in love with her music with her trademark song “I Loves You Porgy” from her first album Little Girl Blue in 1958. She received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000 for her interpretation of the song.
Simone had two honorary degrees in music and humanities, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College. At the age of 70 and just two days before her death in April 23, 2003, Simone was also awarded an honorary degree by the Curtis Institute, the music school that had refused to admit her as a student at the beginning of her career.
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The legendary singer was also known as the voice of civil rights activism and wrote songs promoting the African-American Civil Rights Movement. She sang famous protest songs like — “Mississippi Goddam” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”
These inspirational quotes by Nina Simone are testimony to her legacy of liberation, empowerment, passion and love.
“You’ve got to learn to leave the table, When love’s no longer being served.”
“Life is short. People are not easy to know. They’re not easy to know, so if you don’t tell them how you feel, you’re not going to get anywhere, I feel.”
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“I’m just human, I have faults like anyone.”
“I’ll tell you what freedom is to me – No Fear.”
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“You don’t have to live next to me. Just give me my equality.”
“Music is a gift and a burden I’ve had since I can remember who I was.”
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“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.”
“No place is big enough for holding all the tears you’re gonna cry.”
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“The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… 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.”
“You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”
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“I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about… Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.”
“What is love but a prelude to sorrow… with heartache ahead for your goal.”