Legal name: Eunice Kathleen Waymon
Nina Simone (/ˈniːnə sᵻˈmoʊn/; born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist who worked in a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
Born in North Carolina, the sixth child of a preacher, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of her supporters in Tryon, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York but was unable to continue because of the high fees. She was later denied a scholarship to study at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone became fully convinced her rejection had been entirely due to her race, a statement that has been a matter of controversy.
To make a living, Simone chose to play "cocktail piano" at a night club in Atlantic City, where she was told she had to sing to her own accompaniment, effectively launching her career as a jazz vocalist. She recorded more than forty albums, mostly between 1958, when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue, and 1974, and had a hit in the United States in 1958 with "I Loves You, Porgy".
Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.