RCA Victor LSP 4248 (1970 US)
With the release of the album also came an LP called "An Evening with Nina Simone". It was a recorded interview about the album. The questions were provided in written form, so that radio DJ's could ask the questions and play Simone's recorded answers, as if she were in the studio.
See all releases of this album.
Nina Simone, RCA Records' tough, vibrant singer/pianist, has been making her personal vibrations since the late fifties, and she has developed her own ever-widening coterie of fans during those ensuing years. Two new audiences discovered Nina in late 1969. She was found uptown in New York at Philharmonic Hall in Lincoln Center in October. And she was found downtown in New York at Fillmore East just before Christmas.
Following Nina's Philharmonic Hall concert, John S. Wilson wrote this about the multi-talented black artist in The New York Times: "Each year, as Miss Simone gets deeper and deeper info herself and into her music, new facets of this remarkable performer come into view. During the past ten years, she has evolved from a relatively traditional jazz pianist and balled singer to become a weaver of exotic moods and then fiery black polemicist. Last year she branched into rock her own version, of course, for everything she does bears the stamp of her strong, personal style. Last night, a full and enthusiastic house at Philharmonic Hall saw and heard this year's development. The mood material, spun out in the throbbing beat of her sensuous voice, is still there. And so are the polemics. But her stage personality is more open, more free. She smiles and she glows as she has never done before."
And of her first gig at the Fillmore, Don Heckman inscribed these thoughts in The Village Voice: "It's hard to believe that last Saturday night's Nina Simone was the same performer who recorded "I Loves You, Porgy" nearly a decade ago. The most noticeable change is that she now possesses an absolute mastery of her material. Like all great singers, she has passed the point of sheer technique and takes for granted nuances of performance that other singers would have to make strenuous and conscious efforts to achieve. Her piano playing has improved dramatically. She still employs the familiar rhapsodic chording of her earlier style ... but now the romantic fleshiness of the impressionistic harmonies is balanced by the sparse, lean bones of the blues. She leaves the piano more often, too, stalking the stage with the exhortative passion of a female shaman, bending and twisting her sensuously full body in response to the driving rhythms of her super rhythm section."
The song with which she ended both shows, uptown and downtown (portions of the Philharmonic concert were recorded live by RCA for her album "Black Gold" LSP-4248), with her very personal, quite moving tribute to her friend, the late black playwright, Lorraine Hansberry entitled "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." That song could very well define the talent that is RCA Records' Nina Simone.
Nina Simone was born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, the sixth of eight children. Her mother worked as a housekeeper and her father was a handyman by day. At night and on Sundays, he wore the robes of an ordained Methodist minister.
As a youngster, Nina learned to play piano by ear and was quite proficient on the organ by the age of seven. "By then. I had acquired a deep and intense devotion to sound. Anything musical made me quiver ecstatically, as if my body were a violin and somebody was drawing a bow across it."
Since her family's financial status threatened to cut short Nina's musical career, a local music teacher, Mrs. Lawrence Mazzanovich, realizing the child's potential, offered to train her along classical lines at no charge. Soon the teacher established a "Eunice Waymon Fund" and booked her pupil at churches and clubs where patrons were asked for contributions to advance the prodigy's education. Thus she was able to go to Asheville, North Carolina, to attend high school, and was valedictorian of her graduating clans. There was still enough money left in the fund so that she was able to continue her musical training for a year and a half at the Juilliard School of Music.
When Nina's family moved to Philadelphia, she became an accompanist for vocal students and gave private piano lessons in order to provide for her own studies with Vladimir Sokoloff at the Curtis Institute of Music.
When she was nineteen, she went job hunting in Atlantic City. A nightclub owner auditioned her while she improvised folk songs and popular ballads. He hired her and then informed her that to keep her job she would have to sing as well as play.
"I was stunned. In all my concentration on the piano, I hadn't paid any attention to my voice." But she had studied well. She learned by listening to Hazel Scott. By hearing Dinah Washington. By soaking in Billie Holiday. She began singing spirituals and the audience ate it up.
From then on, Nina had little difficulty finding work especially after her recording of "I Loves You, Porgy" was released in the late '50s. ("The first records I heard were those of Billie Holiday. It was her version that inspired me to sing 'Porgy.'")
In the spring of 1961, when Nina was appearing in a midtown New York nightclub, she was introduced to a member of the police department, Detective Sergeant Andrew Stroud. They wed on his birthday, December 4, and moved into an East Side apartment. These days, they inhabit their own three-story, nine-room house in suburban Mount Vernon with their young daughter, Lisa Celeste.
In 1964, Andy, who was scheduled for promotion to Lieutenant as a result of some twenty citations, nevertheless resigned from the department to become his wife's manager and head of Stroud Productions and Ninandy Music Co., which guides her career.
Late in 1966, Nina Simone signed an exclusive recording contract with RCA Records, shortly before preparing for her third European tour, with performances scheduled for London, Amsterdam, Antibes and TV appearances in Spain as well as on Eurovision.
Prior to the release of her first Victor album, Nina was presented with the Jazz at Home Club's Jazz Culture Award the annual prize going to an outstanding jazz artist. Accepting the award in Philadelphia, base of the Jazz at Home Club, she said, "I have always admired the late Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday and I know they never in their lifetimes were so honored as I am tonight."
Of her debut album for RCA, "Nina Simone Sings the Blues" (LSP-3789), critic Felix Grant of the Washington (D.C.) Star said: "Attempting to classify Nina Simone is difficult for she continues to present the broadcast spectrum of human emotions that are at times as shocking as an open wound and as tender as puppy love. ... Of the number of girls singing today, Nina Simone stands out as the most likely to be referred to as a true jazz singer.
Her second album, "Silk and Soul" (LSP-3837), featured Nina in the pop-gospel and soul-spiritual area, singing songs by her composer brother, Sam Waymon, as well as by her musician husband, among others.
Next came Nina Simone's first "live" album for RCA, "Nuff Said!" (LSP-4065), recorded at a sellout concert at the Westbury, Long Island, Music Fair. For Miss Simone, the concert had special significance which was reflected in some of her repertoire for it took place, by chance, 48 hours after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Nina's personal feelings were reflected in a song written for the occasion, "Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)." Her record of it is to be used at the very end of a special Martin Luther King film project, "King... A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis." to be shown at 1,000 theatres on March 15, 1970.
Music critic Peter Reilly wrote in Stereo Review of her album, "To Love Somebody" (LSP-4152): "(It) is an excellent sample of the best of today's singer-musicians performing at her very best... Until now, Simone has been pretty much a 'caviar to the general' taste, the focus of a small but intense cult, but this recording makes it possible to see her as a much more universal talent... She is, and has long been, one of the best American singers around."