Sinnerman (10:17)

Cover of The Essential Nina Simone

From The Essential Nina Simone and 26 other releases

“Sinnerman” is an American traditional spiritual song that has been recorded by a number of performers. The song dates to the turn of the 20th century but most modern recorded versions derive from 1959 changes and additions codified by the folk music group the Weavers. The Weavers’ performance of the song appears on their compilation albums Gospel and Reunion at Carnegie Hall Part 2.

“Sinnerman” (spelled as one word) is one of Nina Simone’s most famous songs and she recorded her definitive 10-minute plus version on her 1965 album Pastel Blues. Simone learned the lyrics of this song in her childhood when it was used at revival meetings by her mother, (a Methodist minister) to help people confess their sins. In the early days of her career (early sixties when she was heavily involved in the Greenwich Village scene), Simone often used the long piece to end her live performances. An earlier version of this song exists, recorded live at The Village Gate, but was never used on the 1962 Colpix album Nina at the Village Gate.
Nina Simone’s version of Sinnerman has been sampled by hip-hop producer Kanye West for the Talib Kweli song “Get By”, by Timbaland for the song “Oh Timbaland”, and by Felix da Housecat for Verve Record’s “Verve Remixed” series. It has also been covered by 16 Horsepower on their album Folklore, and by Zegota on their self-titled 7”. French rapper Abd al-Malik sampled Simone’s version for the title track of his 2006 album “Gibraltar”.

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