She died in 2003 at age 70, but was very present during 2015. On the big screen, with the controversial documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Directed by Liz Garbus; in the demonstrations and racial conflicts involving blacks and whites in the United States, especially the Baltimore, where Freddie, 25, arrested on 12 April, he died seven days later in police custody. And now is the muse of the recent CD “Nina Revisited”, launched in Brazil in December.
In moving text in the booklet, Angela Davis, the “black panther” and activist for human rights and the fight against racial discrimination in the 1960s, recalls that Nina Simone was the first to put the issue of gender in these movements. She was the only woman to participate in playing and singing in a public demonstration in Los Angeles at the legendary 1968 in protest against the arrest of Huey Newton.
“Representing the silenced women and sharing their unique artistic genius, she personified the revolutionary democracy that we had not yet learned to imagine.” Three years later, Nina visited Angela prey. It took him a red balloon, evoked on the CD cover.
As a teenager, at 17, Nina said to have been arrested because of the color of piano lessons in classical music teaching temple in 1951, the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He took his passion for Bach to blues and jazz, building a song so personal and own – in piano and voice inflections and unmistakable timbre – that it becomes almost impossible to make quality a tribute to his art.
Good thing her daughter, Lisa Simone, now 53, also a singer, had the decency to only take four minutes of the CD, with a very short vignette introduction, My Mama Could Sing, and an opaque version of I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl.
He gave room for exceptional Lauryn Hill. In her 40s, she dominates the tribute, with five performances. His voice does not reach the refinement of phrasing and intensity modulations in the same word syllables, as did Nina, but Hill not worry about it. It has the same affinity with his muse. “Feeling Good” let it go a sigh of tear by Nina; in “I’ve Got Life”, she sticks a perfect way to rap; and “Ne Me Quitte Pas” does not compromise. His rarest moments are undoubtedly two of Nina masterpieces: “Black is The Color of My True Love’s Hair”, framed by a sumptuous arrangement; and the beautiful “Wild is the Wind” by Dmitri Tionkim, magician of the soundtracks of Hollywood in more minimalist arrangement, complete with subtle electronic echoes.
There are other great moments like the classic reggae Baltimore, Randy Newman, engraved by Nina in 1978, here in stronger guise of Jasmine Sullivan, 28 years. The most radical, and therefore great for acute verses – both from a musical point of view, citing Coltrane and other artists, but also the political message – is the rapper Common, next to the clear superagudos of Lalah Nathaway. He cites the famous Mississippi Goddam Nina and updates the curses: “Ferguson, goddamned / Staten Island, goddamned / Baltimore, goddamned.”
If you could keep only one track, this would be “I Put a Spell On You”, which called Nina, a famous concert in Montreux, English version of “Ne Me Quittes Pas” by Edith Piaf. The author of the feat is Alice Smith, 37. The incredible guitar Chris Sholar makes comments to the precise inflections stabbing Alice declaring his love; even the backing vocals sound just right. Robert Glasper hit squarely in this arrangement where everything is visceral … as Nina. To miss her tighten, the remedy is this: listen five times the last track, in which the very Nina sings and plays “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” the 1972 record.