James Baldwin used to tell Nina Simone, "This is the world you have made for yourself, now you have to live in it." Simone has created for herself a world of magnificent peaks. Often compared to Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, Simone is known as one of the greatest singers of her generation. She has recorded forty-three albums, ranging from blues to jazz to folk, and her hits like "I Loves You, Porgy," "My Baby Just Cares for Me," "I Put a Spell on You," and "Mississippi Goddam" have confirmed her as an enduring force in popular music. Her song "Young, Gifted, and Black" became the anthem for the Civil Rights Movement and thrust her beyond international stardom into the center of activism. But such worlds as Simone's are not without their grim valleys: disastrous marriages, arrest and the threat of imprisonment, mental breakdown, poverty, and attempted suicide. She has survived these trials and continues to perform throughout Europe and the United States. With undiminished passion and in her unconquerable voice, this is Nina Simone’s powerful memoir of her tempestuous life.
Da Capo Press
Da Capo Press
Da Capo Press
Da Capo Press
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nina Simone is a great artist with a compelling story to tell. Unfortunately, little of that story comes across in this book. Ms. Simone shares all sorts of details about her lovers, but very little about her music. There is almost nothing in the book about her recording sessions or why she sings particular songs the way she does. While Ms. Simone is very frank about her personal life, I would have liked to have learned more about her music. The book is also confusing because Ms. Simone will spend many pages on just a few days, and then entire years will be dismissed by a sentence or two. Ms. Simone's collaborator should have edited the book better and drawn out more music-related stories from her.
Nina Simone is one my All-time favorite artists and to read her story in her own words was quite a thrill. She has led a very interesting, unusual, and adventurous life. However, I found myself wishing that she would be a little bit more introspective in the telling of the story. She went from event to event without really giving a detailed picture of how she actually felt. When the book was over I didn't really feel any different than when I began reading the book, just more knowlegeable.
It is true that this book is not well written and seems to have been put together on the quick without any professional editing. My guess is that it was written as a means to make a fast buck. That said, the autobiography is worth reading because it is the only real glimpse many of us will ever get into the psyche of Nina Simone. I read that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the 1960s and this was kept secret until well after her death. I don't know for a fact if she actually had bipolar disorder. However, it is evident from reading her life story as told by her that she did have emotional and psychiatric problems. She made rash and erratic decisions for her and her daughter and her life seemed to be filled with self imposed chaos. She was an angry person, was always running from some thing, and blamed anyone and anything but herself for her unhappiness and problems. Most surprising to me was how she was always looking for someone, usually a man, to save her. I had...
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