Nina Simone: Nina's The Medium For The Message

Penny Valentine
Melody Maker, 19 April 1969

NINA SIMONE, the artist, is the High Priestess of Soul, the blues singer and the jazz pianist. Nina Simone, the person, is compelling, formidable, and totally involved in life and living.

She was in London last week reaching a much wider audience than usual — thanks to a song from Hair and one from the Bee Gees — but worrying because her latest single 'Revolution' is not being played.

"I'm sensitive about all my records but I'm concerned because this one isn't selling. I'd like the fans to find out why it's not being played, I want to know what they think.

"'Revolution' means what's going on in the world.

"If you listen to the lyrics of the song you will see though it does mention the racial problem, there are numerous others — the young against the old, the black against the white, the poor against the rich, the new breed against the old establishment.

Same Emotions

"I think the young people would like it especially.

"I try to say through my music what thousands of people think and feel, but aren't able to say. I'm just a medium. Millions of people go through the same emotions in their own lives.

"The music that you put out should be very close to what you feel. I'm very happy that I've had the hits — it's thrilling, a bonus, it's the supreme compliment but I'm not going to change what I do and put out something that doesn't please me.

"I like to please the public but not at my own expense.

"I want to sing the best music in life — the best that I can find.

"Yes, the message is more important to me but I don't think it can be separated from the music.

"For me, the message is more important. The message L-O-V-E. Love, baby, and care — people don't care about one another."

The state of the British charts interested Nina, especially the current upsurge of enthusiasm for Tamla-Motown.

"Coloured artists are leading the trend of music in the pop chart and this is what should be. It should have happened years before.

"There are many reasons — we could talk all day about it — but the world is getting smaller.

"Coloured artists are accepted in ways they could never have been before — they don't have to take back seats any more. The medium is very big now — there's TV, radio and travel.

"First of all, I regard myself as a coloured woman who is very sensitive about this thing.


"I always want to reflect my people. Young people, black or white, come second.

"I am a spokeswoman for young people, but first of all I'm a coloured woman.

"The thing I most want to do is take a year off, or however long it takes, and do an awful lot of reflecting about life and music.

"You have to see what you've done and you have to take time to do that.

"When I die I want to have left some particular mark of my own. I'm carving my own little niche in this world now."