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Nina Simone

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Tryon, North Carolina, USA (1933 – 2003)

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (21 February 1933 – 21 April 2003), better known by her stage name Nina Simone, was an American , pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with music. Simone aspired to become a classical pianist while working in a broad range of styles including , , , , , , , and .

Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on 21st February 1933 in Tryon, North Carolina, USA, one of eight children. Like a number of other black singers in the U.S., she was inspired as a child by Marian Anderson, and began singing at her local church, also showing great talent as a pianist. Her public debut, a piano recital, was made at the age of ten. Her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white audience members. This incident contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement.

Simone’s mother, Mary Kate Waymon (who lived into her late nineties) was a strict Methodist minister; her father, John Divine Waymon, was a handyman and sometime barber who suffered bouts of ill-health. Mrs Waymon worked as a maid, and her employer, hearing of Nina’s talent, provided funds for piano lessons for the little girl. Subsequently, a local fund was set up to assist in Eunice’s continued education.

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