Feb 21, 1933 - Apr 21, 2003
Eunice Kathleen Waymon , known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well-received audition, which she attributed to racial discrimination. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree. To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to “Nina Simone” to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play “the devil’s music” or so-called “cocktail piano”. She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with “I Loves You, Porgy“.
Famous Song: Mississippi Goddam
Documentary: “What Happened, Miss. Simone?”
Jan 13, 1926 - Apr 23, 1999
Melba Doretta Liston was an American jazz trombonist, arranger, and composer. Other than those playing in all female bands she was the first woman trombonist to play in big bands during the 1940s and 1960s, but as her career progressed she became better known as an arranger particularly in partnership with pianist Randy Weston.
Famous Song: My Reverie
JazzFM.91 Podcast: Melba Liston Was A Trailblazer For Women In Jazz