Music

Nina Simone Retrospectives Flourish With Timeless Praise

NINA SIMONE . CHANTEUSE AMERICAINE . JAZZ . MORLAIX . FINISTERE . 14 MAI 1982 .
Credit Roland Godefroy / http://commons.wikimedia.org/Roland Godefroy
Audio version of this story here.

 

The late jazz legend Nina Simone has been getting a lot of attention lately.

Netflix aired a documentary about her titled “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Another documentary, “The Amazing Nina Simone,” is scheduled for later this year, as is a biopic, “Nina,” starring Zoe Saldana.

Earlier this summer, Simone’s work was featured in a special tribute at the Atlanta Jazz Festival. And this month the album “Nina Revisited” was released in her honor, featuring Lauryn Hill, Usher and Mary J Blige.

Simone, a classically trained musician, jazz pianist and civil rights activist, was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in North Carolina and recorded more than 40 albums during her career.

In this special feature for “City Lights,” H. Johnson, host of WABE’s “Jazz Classics,” thinks it’s no mistake why Simone’s work and life is so captivating more than a decade after her death.

He plays portions of her best-known works, including her controversial rendition of the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit,” and contrasts her version of “I Put A Spell On You” with the comedic strains popularized by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

“Jazz Classics” airs at 9 p.m. Saturdays on WABE. Johnson also is the host of “Blues Classics” on Fridays at 11 p.m.