The singer Nina Simone — in her eclectic repertoire, her international standing and her inter-generational appeal — lives where Duke Ellington placed all his favorites: “beyond category” in the musical world. She burst in on musical celebrity in the 1950s as a pianist and singer with a fresh and electrifying take on “I Loves You, Porgy” from the Gershwins’ “Porgy And Bess.”
In the civil-rights sixties Nina Simone became something like the movement’s singer, with her own protest song, “Mississippi Goddam,” on the assassination of Medgar Evers. She exiled herself in the seventies to Africa and France. But then she conquered Europe and the U.S. anew in the eighties when her version of “My Baby Just Cares for Me” was adapted to sell Chanel No. 5 perfume on television.
The husky voice that crosses from blues and jazz to church music and show tunes is freighted with experience, politics and passion.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)