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Biography of Nina Simone

Bella Donna: Nina Simone

Nina Simone's first-remembered act of moral resistance occurred at one of her concerts when she was 12. Her proud parents, who were seated in the front row, were told to move to the back so that white attendees could have their seats. Nina, incensed, refused to continue playing until they were given back their rightful place. From then on, her career was marked by vocal, tenacious challenges to inequality.

Despite harm to her viability as a popular artist, she created some of the most memorable songs of the civil rights era, including "Mississippi Goddamn" and "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black." In addition, she took part in the Selma to Montgomery marches. She was also one of the first celebrities to embrace her natural hair texture, wearing everything from an afro to a modified hi-top fade. Although commercial success frequently eluded her, many of her songs are now standards of the jazz and soul canons, and she lived to see a resurgence in her popularity during the 1990's.

Her personal life was as tumultuous as her career, and she lived in Barbados, Liberia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland before settling in France, where she passed away after a protracted battle with breast cancer in 2003. We have Nina to thank not only for her music and her style, but for her unwavering sense of fairness and her compelling calls to action. She's an excellent example of someone who refused to be a bystander to injustice and persecution — something we could use a little more of these days.


At a photo shoot in 1968

Breakfast in Bed After a Concert in Paris, 1988

Performing in 1991

Still Looking Fabulous at a Charity Event in 2002

In concert in the late 1960s

Image Source: Getty
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Rouge14 Rouge14 6 years
She's one of my all time favourite artists, she's such an inspiration as a woman, as a singer and as a human being, there should be more people like her. <3
Rouge14 Rouge14 6 years
She's one of my all time favourite artists, she's such an inspiration as a woman, as a singer and as a human being, there should be more people like her. <3
tarynitup tarynitup 6 years
She was beautiful and fabulous! I got to see her in concert in the early 2000's and she had a fantastic dress on, played and sang her heart out, and cursed like a sailor!!! We love you Nina!
nyx1 nyx1 6 years
Thanks so much for this beautifully written post, Bella! I love that I can read this beauty blog and learn about social issues as well - two seemingly incongruous interests of mine. I had no idea Nina Simone was so awesome :)
dannysf dannysf 6 years
I was introduced to Nina via the Point of No Return soundtrack. Random, I know. She was such a talent.
Baby-Girl Baby-Girl 6 years
Love her! I'm glad I got to see her in concert.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 6 years
I love listening to her music! She is amazing!
GKitty GKitty 6 years
Miss..GD was written in response to her brother's murder by police. Black people communicated through song with out censorship...we still speak in code.
bellaressa bellaressa 6 years
She was amazing. Such a beauty.
LauraMBLHD LauraMBLHD 6 years
glad to see her featured here. she so soothing and heartful
lauren lauren 6 years
I love this series! Nina is one of my all-time favorites!!!
Briandiesel Briandiesel 6 years
one of my all time favorite voices ever. she was just amazing. in every sense
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 6 years
Divalicious indeed!
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 6 years
Divalicious indeed!
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