Saturday, 26 February 2011

Video: Nina Simone Documentary by Peter Rodis, 1969



I'm not quite sure where I came across this documentary, I imagine from a tribute posted to honour Nina Simone's birthday last week, but I had to share it. Her fierce integrity and intensity are so striking when asked a question, as if she believed that surely everyone should know what she knew.

I once watched an interview with Nina Simone not long before she died, and when asked what she thought of modern music (late 90s), she replied loftily that she didn't like any of it, which to my youthful ears was almost blasphemous. Little did I know just how high the stakes were for her as an artist - longing to become the first black concert pianist but being rejected from the college of her choice because of her skin colour, singing the music of her time for money when she'd rather be elsewhere playing Bach, supporting so many financially, fighting for freedom both as an artist and for her race. It is hard to imagine her trying to connect with artists born in to such a different world.

One of my favourite parts of the film above, is when Simone says somewhat sadly that she would like to study English, in order to really discover the power of words, when she was already one of the greatest songwriters the world will ever know.  

     

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