Ok everyone, thanks for your questions, and I will check in later to see if there are any more to respond to.

Stay well wherever you are in these dangerous times.


Audience Approval (4)

What do you think it is that is so magnetising about miss Simone? I am a 26yr old, white male, born in England who for the most part has had a privileged life, yet when she sings i feel such a connection, I feel I understand the place she is singing from, yet to look out the lives we lived it couldn't be more different.

and when writing the biography, what was it like just to be in her presence?

from /u/PPayne93

Nina Simone isn't a "performer" in the sense that when she sings she is not worryying much about how it comes across, it's more her own personal exploration of the song which we in the audience get to listen in on. That's the only way I can describe it. So it feels a lot more intimate listening to her sing, and more personal. I think that's one of the key things that connects her songs to her audience.

Audience Approval (4)

What do you think it is that is so magnetising about miss Simone? I am a 26yr old, white male, born in England who for the most part has had a privileged life, yet when she sings i feel such a connection, I feel I understand the place she is singing from, yet to look out the lives we lived it couldn't be more different.

and when writing the biography, what was it like just to be in her presence?

from /u/PPayne93

Being with Nina was a fascinating and memorable experience. When I first met her I was intimidated because she seemed fierce and angry, but I found once I got to know her a lot of that was a kind of protective shield she built around herself. She had a hard time of it a lot of the time, and she didn't trust people quickly because she had her fingers burnt from doing that.

Once I got to know her she relaxed. And was often really good company. She demanded respect, but she was an informal person, she didn't put on any airs with me when we worked on the book together. I would say we became good friends for that time. She was fiercely intelligent and hated it when people treated her like a fool, or talked down to her. She was a proud woman, and proud of her race and her achievements. She was also vulnerable, she was bipolar and struggled with tha sometimes, and she would go quiet and become a little depressed. But she loved games - she and I played backgammo for hours together - and that relaxed her and cheered her up.

Audience Approval (7)

Is it an autobiography if it wasn't written purely by her?

from /u/TheInnsanity

Yes, I think so. I helped with the research to remind Nina where she was at a certain time, who else was there and so on, but that's so she could remember. The book is what she said and thought about her life. When we finished our work togeher we sat down and I read her the entire book start to finish so she could hear it - Nina wanted to hear it read, she wanted to hear the rhythm of the words as they were spoken - and to be sure it was exactly what she wanted the book to be, hers.

Audience Approval (9)

What did you think of the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina?

How have you contributed to the preservation of her childhood home in North Carolina?

from /u/Freemontst

I thought the whole thing was unfortunate and badly handled from the start. It surprised me that the film's producers didn't understand the strong feelings the way it was all handled would generate in a lot of her fans and admirers.

Regarding Nina's childhood home in Tryon, I haven't contributed directly. Nina had a number of childhood homes, because family circumstances meant her family couldn't afford to stay in one house throught Nina's childhood: I like the idea of a centre edicated to Nina Simone in Tryon though, and if that one house is to be it, great.

Audience Approval (5)

In live performances, lines in her songs changed to fit current events at the time. Did she rewrite and rehearse parts of her songs, or just wing it on the spot?

from /u/michaelyup

A mixture, in my experience. Sometimes she put lines into the lyrics on the spot, reacting to what was going on around her at that moment, but the overall performances were carefully rehearsed. But I saw her decide to mix two songs on the spot sometimes, switching between one and another because it felt right. She was such a skilled musician that wasn't hard for her to do. Sometimes her band had to catch up though, because she wouldn't tell them she was going to do it!

Audience Approval (3)

I am just a 26 years who enjoys music sorry if my opinion is not very well written. There was a concert as a part of BBC Proms called Mississippi Goddam' Homage to Nina Simone. I personally find it very well conducted and the orchestra and arrangement is amazingly well and singers Ledisi, Lisa Fisher and LaSharVu trio did an amazing performance each of them showed an aspect of Nina's music. I really would like to know what did you, as someone who knew her closely think about this performance?

from /u/Kheenamooth

I thought it was great, and I thought the interview with the performers and other artists talking about Nina Simone's influence on their lives as artists was excellent too.

Audience Approval (2)

What's the backstory on her singing Bob Dylan's "The Times They are a-Changing"?

She was flat out amazing.

from /u/Oldzoomie

Nina Simone always liked Bob Dylan. They met a number of times in the clubs around Greenwich Village when they were both playing there. Dylan was a fan of hers too. She liked his sensibilty as much as his songs. When I asked her which contemporary musicians she admired, Dylan was the first or second name she gave me.

Audience Approval (2)

What's something you learned about yourself stemming from your time with Ms Simone?

from /u/alliems16a

That's a good question. I will try to answer it as honestly as I can. I think I learned two things most of all. First, the truth of a life doesn't really exist as a single truth. It depends on where you stand and where you are coming from. After the book was published some critics and fans said it glossed over things, or it didn't tell the whole story. They still say that, I read someone in a book saying the same thing the other day. My response to that is to ask "who says Nina Simone has to tell you the truth about anything?" I don't think an artist is under any obligation to tell the truth and I'm pretty sure Nina would say the same thing is she was alive today. The job of the artist is to bring the audience to an understanding of a truth, but that's done by using your art. The true meaning of Nina's life and what happened in her life are not the same thing. I think Nina taught me that, to look for the deeper truth than the literal truth, and Ilearned that I needed to look for that deeper truth in things more than I had been doing in my life up to that point.

The second thing I learned was that I was very lucky and privileged in my place in the world that I was born into, and I needed to always be aware of that. Not apologise for it, but be aware that so many people in the world, like Nina Simone, had harder roads to travel that were longer than mine, and that was fundamentally unfair.

Audience Approval (2)

Did she have opinions about French singers like Edith Piaf or Mireille Mathieu? Who were the contemporaries she liked?

from /u/Oldzoomie

She liked Piaf more tham Mathieu but didn't like to be compared to them. Nina was proud and very aware of the classical aspects of her music and thought that differentiated her - and she was right.

Audience Approval (2)

How important do you think that going to Julliard was to her career?

from /u/BadgerMilk12

Not that important. She had been trainingintensely as a classical pianist for years before she went there, and her main ambition as a classial pianist was to get a scholarship at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. Her timeat Julliard was meantas preparation for that.

But her classical training overall was critical to her music and therefore her career because it was the combination of the classical sensibility and musical understanding with the other gospel, folk, soul and RnB influences that gave her a unique sound, and, as importantly a unique performing style. There was, and hasn't been since, anyone who sounded and played like Nina Simone, with her extraordinary mix of influences combining into an inimitable style and sound.

Audience Approval (4)

What would Nina thought COVID 19 outbreak??

from /u/KillerJohn_123

She'd be hoping the people she cared about would stay safe along with everyone else.

Audience Approval (3)

What color is your toothbrush?

from /u/Norgeroff

It changes, depending on my mood. Today it is lightly blue.

Audience Approval (3)
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