RSS

Tag Archives: Nina Simone

Nina Simone Interview 1968 – On Black Pride

Blast for the past! The shadow of the events of 1968 still afflict America. The serial murders of both King and Kennedy, the rise of the right – and “The War”.

Nina Simone Talks Black Pride in This Rare, Beautifully Animated Interview From 1968

Through the ’60s and ’70s, Nina Simone essentially soundtracked the American civil rights movement, emerging as one of the era’s most brilliant, bluntly political artists, and one who was reluctant to speak to white interviewers for fear of misrepresentation. A rare exception to that rule came in 1968, when European jazz singer Lilian Terry talked with the legend at her home in Mt. Vernon.

That interview, which never aired in the United States, has been beautifully animated in the latest installment of Blank on Blank. In it, Simone and Terry start with some light, discursive chat before segueing into a sober discussion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s recent assassination. Simone concludes by noting that “it’s a lot of hell and a lot of violence, but I feel more alive now than I ever have in my life.”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rhiannon Giddens on Nina Simone biopic, Music, and Racism

Rhiannon Giddens is an emerging crossover star (former Opera star), as welcome at the Grand Old Opry as the Kennedy Center Stage.  Here she discusses the impact of discrimination as well as the new Nina Simone biopic.

Rhiannon Giddens: “Songs don’t change anything; they inspire people to change things”

This is her newest release –

And something a bit more “folksy”

And if you don’t believe “The Grand Old Oprey”…Here she is there…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nina Simone “Biopic” Controversy

This is a strange one. A “biopic” done by RLJE, whose chairman (and BET founder) is Robert L. Johnson somehow cast a HIspanic woman to play the lead role as iconic singer Nina Simone. Not that Zoe Saldana is a bad, or unqualified actress – but the role seems to be a major, major stretch.

Starting with Zoe, vs two shots of Nina –

Now…Apparently with the help of makeup and prosthetics, Zoe looks like this in the movie…

Not seeing any resemblance at all here folks…

Nina Simone biopic starring Zoe Saldana to be released in December

The long-anticipated Nina Simone biopic, starring Zoe Saldana as the iconic singer-songwriter and civil rights activist, is finally coming to theaters.

RLJ Entertainment announced that it has acquired North American rights to Nina, and the film will be released this December.

“I had the special privilege early in my career of working with Ms. Simone while coordinating a performance for former D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy and knowing first-hand of her major contribution to the soul and emotion of the Civil Rights Movement,” RLJE chairman and BET founder Robert L. Johnson said in a statement. “I look forward as I am sure many others will, to her story and legacy being made available by RLJ Entertainment to consumers on various media platforms in the coming months.”

Written and directed by newcomer Cynthia Mort, Nina follows the rise of the legendary American vocalist, a 15-time Grammy nominee known for iconic standards like “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” “Feeling Good,” and “To Be Young Gifted and Black.” Her struggles to balance her career and her activism left her living alone in France, feeling isolated from her own country. It was there that she met Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), who became her assistant.

Nina’s release has been delayed for several years, with casting changes, public controversy, and even a lawsuit. Mary J. Blige was originally attached to star as Simone back in 2010, but she dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. She was replaced by Saldana, but some criticized the new casting, saying that Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, was too petite and light-skinned to play Simone. The film’s release was delayed further when Mort herself filed a lawsuit against the production company last year.

Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has also criticizedNina, choosing instead to work on this year’s Netflix documentary about her mother, What Happened, Miss Simone? 

Quite frankly, other than in vocal talent – I am not even feeling it on Mary J. Blige playing NIna…But at least Blige’s sultry voice puts her one step ahead of Zoe, who is not a singer.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 7, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Black Protest Music …Then and Now

SO…Has the music died, or is there just another chapter? The author of this piece argues it’s come in a circle…

Sounds of Black Protest Then and Now

By William C. Anderson

The sounds Black people make are the brick and mortar of the United States. Literally. The enslaved African’s singing was a driving force for the free labor that built a young nation and put it at the forefront of empires. Historically, Black Americans have been amongst the primary influencers of music culture. The genres that were born of Black misery, triumph, endurance, protest, and expression have changed the way the entire world sounds. But it’s undeniable that many of these songs were and still are shaped by the fatigue of the constant protest that comes with Black existence.

As the son of a Black Southern Pentecostal minister, I’ve had the privilege of sitting among the serene sounds of praise that birthed a nation of noir notes. Just about every genre that has risen to popularity is from the offspring of the Black church. If you listen closely enough, you can hear Black American beginnings on this continent in our cultural songs: one part culture, one part community, one part family, one part fear of fire and brimstone. The tears that beg to line my face when I hear Mary Pickney’s “Down on Me”, Janie Hunters’ “Jonah”, or Mahalia Jackson’s “How I Got Over” retrace Fredrick Douglass’ words:

“I have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of those songs would do more to impress some minds with the horrible character of slavery, than the reading of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject could do….The mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery.”

It’s important to note that the act of this singing was more than entertainment for plantation overseers or solely expressions of sadness. In its purest form, the slave’s singing was an act of protest. Its beauty and expression transcends the pervasive hell that was the environment that allowed them to be enslaved.

Black existence is an act of rebellion in and of itself, most especially in art. Black people have sung songs amid the persistent onslaught of struggle in the United States, though not exclusively. Enslaved Africans pioneered music like Cumbia, tango, and rumba across the Americas and integrated self-defense and music in Brazil with capoeira. Here in North America, all of the elements of our African diasporic kin’s musical instincts are present in our musical traditions, too.

Since the days of chattel slavery, we’ve heard as our songs have taken different shapes, changed. Jazz’s earliest beginnings in the Congo Square of New Orleans were moments of sanctification, through the allowance of Whites for them to congregate there, to evoke their traditions and make music. Jazz has been consistent in this way over decades. Artists like Nina Simone and Charles Mingus made outspokenness a part of their reputation over the years with songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Fables of Faubus”. Miles Davis became the embodiment of Black protest to many through his unwillingness to bend to White standards, insistence that Black women grace his album covers, and even making a tribute to “Black Jack Johnson”. Other imaginative artists like Sun Ra created other, better worlds for Black people through their music. Some artists like Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln infused what they could into Black protests through their art. In the song “Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace”, from the classic Black resistance jazz album We Insist, you can hear the waves of emotion Lincoln pours into her vocals. At one point in the song, she arguably sets a shrieking standard for punk rock before the genre officially existed, but not before evoking the symbolic moans of gospel and the blues. The revolutionary nature of Black music always comes back to that starting point.

The blues are Black survival music. While many songs deal with the everyday issues, others from blues’ earliest beginnings up to contemporary times are blatantly political. Three songs about my infamous home state of Alabama come to mind: J.B. Lenoir’s “Alabama”, Lead Belly’s “Scottsboro Boys”, and John Lee Hooker’s “Birmingham Blues”. You can find countless songs about Alabama because it was one of the starting points of the “great migration” Blacks made when they left the South fleeing oppressive violence. Furthermore, it was once the cradle of the civil rights movement and Black activism itself.

Much of the music that defines what most know as Black protest songs are civil rights era protest music. Songs like “We Shall Overcome”, “A Change Is Going to Come”, “We Shall Not Be Moved”, and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round” set the stage for what many millennials like myself would come to know as the movement songs. Documentaries like Eyes on the Prize were filled with these songs as soundtrack to the brutality of White supremacist violence against Black people.

I must admit that seeing these images of Black people singing while being beaten ruthlessly felt self-defeating and depressing as a child. The eternal words of Malcolm X, “stop singing and start swinging,” come to mind. Though there should not be any diminishing of the importance of any particular type of protest music, the current Black generation has moved toward a more confrontational approach….Read the rest of this outstanding piece here

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Blue Moon

A little something to enjoy Dinner by –

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 29, 2010 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

Tags: , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: