Often known as the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone paid great attention to the musical expression of emotions. An American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist, Simone disliked being categorized, but is arguably most associated with her performance of jazz music.
Trained classically with aspirations to become a classical pianist, her work covers an eclectic variety of musical styles that include classical music, jazz, the blues, soul, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop music. Her vocal style is characterized by intense passion, a loose vibrato, and a slightly androgynous timbre, in part due to her unusually low vocal range which veered between the alto and tenor ranges.
Simone recorded over 40 live and studio albums, the greatest body of her work being released between 1958 (when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue) and 1974. Songs she is best known for include “My Baby Just Cares for Me”, “I Put a Spell on You”, “Four Women”, “I Loves You Porgy”, “Feeling Good”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “Sinnerman”, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”, “Mississippi Goddamn”, “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life” and “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl”.
Simone’s music and message made a strong and lasting impact on culture, illustrated by the numerous contemporary artists who cite her as an important influence. She received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000 and was a fifteen-time Grammy Award nominee over the course of her career.