Continuing my spotlight on "Black History Month", a new biography of jazz siner Nina Simone has just been released and is reviewed below by Booklist Magazine.
"My baby just cares for, my baby just cares for me..."
Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone.
Cohodas, Nadine (author).
Born in 1933, Eunice Waymon was a musical prodigy, amazing North Carolina churchgoers with her piano playing beginning at age four. Serious, proud, and hardworking, she dreamed of becoming a classical pianist and only began performing her unique blend of classical, gospel, jazz, and pop when she took a nightclub gig to earn money for graduate school. Eunice’s spontaneous invention of her alter ego, Nina Simone, is evidence of her formidable capacity for improvisation, the lifeblood of her world-altering music and the skill that helped her survive the bloody turmoil of the civil-rights era. Cohodas infuses every scene with electrifying detail and penetrating insights into Simone’s struggles as an African American musician of phenomenal talent and exalted ambition. Cohodas provides gripping descriptions of Simone’s indelible music along with profoundly moving accounts of her commanding, increasingly militant, and eventually downright bizarre stage presence. From her regal demeanor to her friendships with James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry, courageous activism, and the tragedies that pushed Simone into mental illness, Cohodas chronicles every turn with precision and empathy. The result is a wrenching story of how racism can undermine even the most ascendant life, and a dramatic portrait of an uncompromising, audacious, and beleaguered musical genius of conscience.