Within the music industry, more and more people are beginning to engage the idea of classical music in a broader, more inclusive way. By celebrating things like soul, blues, and jazz as equally classical to our lived musical experiences, the door is opened not only for those who are expanding the genre today, but for those who worked to do so in the past, as well. Hey y’all – I’m Loki Karuna, and on today’s edition of NoteWorthy I’d like to celebrate one of the greatest classical musicians to ever live – the one and only Nina Simone.

Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon back in 1933, started playing the piano at a very early age. She had dreams of becoming famous for her interpretations of the European classics, but eventually found her voice, both figuratively and literally, within what she called black classical music, or music uniquely created and codified right here in the US. Her notable performances and recordings are more than can be named, but the way she fused American and European classical traditions in this tune called “Love Me or Leave Me” serve as a perfect example of how broad her musical imagination and engagement was.

Nina Simone spent her latter years in France, where she died in her sleep in 2003 after years of fighting breast cancer. She may be gone, in body, but she will never be forgotten. Long live Nina Simone – one of the world’s most NoteWorthy musicians.

NoteWorthy is a production of WDAV Classical Public Radio. 

Pictured: Nina Simone in 1969. By Gerrit de Bruin/courtesy of Re-Emerging Films CC by 4.0.