by By T. McLendon
Nina Simone would have been 84 years old today and in thinking about her contributions to Black thought, music, style, and activism, we can’t think of a single reason why she shouldn’t be celebrated. Take a look at these five reasons why Nina Simone was and is a timeless queen.
Musical Excellence: Nina was a gifted pianist and singer, a songwriter that infused gospel and jazz into soul and the blues, and scores of musicians cite her as a source of inspiration and a textbook for how to combine activism and art.
Activism: Nina grew up in an era in which racism was ever-present and palpable, a time in which she felt there was no greater calling than to make music and speak out about these injustices. It is women like her and men like Harry Belafonte that laid the groundwork and set the example for artists’ activism in present day.
Loved Unapologetically: Although it’s controversial and debated, many accounts of Nina knew her to be open to loving both men and women and in her diary that was released to the public some time ago, she wrote of feeling, “stuck between desire for both sexes.” In any case, knowing the story of her queerness and the way she rose above and loved unapologetically is aspirational for anyone who loves in spite of what society says is right or wrong.
Search for Freedom: Very few people have been able to put into words what freedom means, but this clip has been the rallying cry for those in search of freedom for quite some time. Nina says so emphatically that freedom is “no fear.” And she was fearless, in life, music, and otherwise, so Nina was, perhaps, the freest of us all.
Mesmerizing Goddess: Nina’s beauty was often overlooked and downplayed, but beyond the rich allure of her voice, her strength, poise, and unforgettable grace will always be what we remember most. Her beauty transcends time and space and we are so thankful that she shared it with us.