Biographer of Tryon-born Civil Rights figure Nina Simone to speak at UNCA

From the press release:

Nadine Cohodas, biographer of Nina Simone, will discuss the Tryon-born singer, pianist and civil rights movement figure, in a lecture at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29 in UNC Asheville’s Highsmith University Union, Mountain Suites. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Born in 1933 as Eunice Kathleen Waymon, Simone learned to play the piano by ear at the age of three and went on to study music at the Juilliard School in New York City’s Lincoln Center. She took the name Nina Simone when she began performing in jazz clubs. Although classically trained, her music smoothly blended jazz, blues, gospel and classical influences.

Simone became a figure in the civil rights struggle through her music and through appearances at civil rights marches and protests. Among her most famous songs are “Mississippi Goddam,” which followed the killing of Medgar Evers and was boycotted in several southern states, and “To Be Young Gifted and Black,” dedicated to her friend, playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Simone is also known for her recording of the Billy Taylor song, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.”

In addition to her biography of Simone, “Princess Noire: The Life and Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone” (2011, Pantheon), Cohodas is the author of several books concerning music, racism, and politics. Her book, “Queen: the Life and Music of Dinah Washington” (2004, Pantheon), received an award for Excellence in Research in Recorded Jazz Music from the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.

This lecture is sponsored by UNC Asheville’s History Department. For more information call 828/251-6415.


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