Jazz and blues legend Nina Simone has died
Nina Simone, the legendary jazz and blues singer, has died at the age of 70 in her house in southern France.
Simone was considered one of the last great living jazz vocalists. Critics appreciated her talents as a composer and singer highly.
The singer was born into a family with many children in North Carolina in the United States. At the age of four, she started playing the piano. Later, she received a classical-music education in a prestigious musical school in New York — which was a great stroke of luck for a black woman in America in the 1950s.
In 1959, Simone issued her first single, I Love You Porgy, from Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. The single became a hit immediately. Soon, a new song appeared and became very popular: My Baby Just Cares for Me.
Nina Simone left the United States in 1973 and returned to the country only in 1985 to perform a series of concerts. In an interview in 1998, the singer said she had left because of racism. In her words, she "had to pay too much for the struggle against the establishment."
Over the whole of her musical career, Nina Simone lived in Barbados, Switzerland, Liberia, Trinidad and Great Britain. Eight years ago, she moved to France. The great singer performed her last concert last July in Poland.
Why are cigars lit by a match? They are lit by the match’s strong and natural flame, which unwillingly slips out from under professional hands; the fire sputters, resists, envelopes the rolled tobacco leaves and transmits passion and flame to them. The match's head falls off in a second: It is only in the hands of a professional that it lights straight away.
Now it is late; it is even hard to say what time exactly. I feel every sound acutely, and Nina Simone keeps me company. Her voice is streaming from the computer's dynamic speakers. I am lucky: Nina Simone knows what to sing at a moment when emotions are on the verge of dangerous change.
This is a transition to a different reality, which is always unusual for an ordinary human being used to living on a single level. I would say that the transition hurts: But I wouldn't pass any judgement at all. For the moment, pain is neither good nor bad. This is a feeling that draws everything in you to the surface: All your wishes, emotional experiences, needs and hopes. You become aware that you have many opportunities to understand what is going on around you: If there is love around you, the pain lets you know that antipathy also exists.
It is funny that many people think about feelings, but don't actually experience them. People try to understand, truncate and attach them to some definite person, even to themselves. But, in fact, feelings exist independently of you, as if they understand when they should emerge, retreat into the shadow or die.
Now my brightest feelings are dead, and others are arising. To whom or to what are they to be attached this time around?
I am, now, not feeling, only thinking. It is a very unusual experience to be without emotions; it gives you a chance to look at yourself from the outside and understand what is going on. Now is a rare chance for this!
I am sitting and writing words carefully on a white sheet of paper, pure words that are not burdened with the remains of dead passions.
The feeling of happiness comes upon you quite accidentally, when you understand at a certain moment that you have been dreaming of this unforgettable condition for a long time — thinking about it, but never feeling it.
The voice can be listened to in one's sleep; it is singing the words of a favorite song in a slight accent. Nina Simone sings, "They say, everything could be replaced." Yes, probably, everything can be replaced. Or places can be traded. Or crossed out with a pen. If you wish, everything goes by. One can put an end to everything, dismiss all one’s emotions and call others from the depth of your heart or your soul.
The fire burns and gives out its warmth; it shines, maddens and angers us. This is life, which blazes and burns out. It brings you to a different reality and opens your eyes to an unlimited space of free emotions.