Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I FINALLY GET TO MEET NINA SIMONE
Last week, I visited Tryon for a production of "The Raindrop Waltz," my autobiographical play. I knew, of course, that Nina Simone was born in Tryon and the town has belatedly honored her with this remarkable statue. I talked my friends into driving over to "Nina Simone Plaza" and taking my picture with my favorite singer/musician. Nina's life was filled with tragedy. (See my review of her biography o this blog, Princess Noire.) However, the fact that she was born in Tryon proved to be a considerable advantage. Recognized as something of a child prodigy, Nina was playing the piano at six and was eventually given "classical training" by a retired professional musician. Residents of Tryon paid for the lessons. However, in later years, when Nina suffered several mental breakdowns, she often made statements about "racism in her childhood" that had no basis in fact. Nina was extremely active during the desegregation era and often walked with Martin Luther King. Her explosive temperament in conjunction with her problems with the IRS finally forced her to move to Europe. Despite the fact that her stage performances were often marred by her rants to the audience and her late arrivals, she continued to get standing ovations....even from angry audiences. If you don't know this woman and her music, go treat yourself to something like "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair," or "I'm Gonna Put a Spell on You." White you are at it, listen to "Long Black Freighter" and "Little Girl Blue."