Saturday, 29 September 2012

Feeling Good - Nina Simone (1965)



This song was originally written for a musical back in 1964 by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, yet look how well suited it is to Nina Simone, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, daughter of a preacher man, whose major musical inspiration was Johann Sebastian Bach!

Originally Nina dreamed of being a classical concert pianist and found herself experiencing classic racism when she heard that she had been refused a scholarship, despite her obvious talent, to Curtis Institute of music solely because she was black.This is one of the reason that she later became a civil rights activist after 20 years as a singer, attending many meetings and  using her songs in support of the cause; 'Mississippi Goddam,' highlighting the Alabama Bombing in which 4 children were killed and it was Nina Simone who turned,'Young Gifted and black,' into a civil rights song. All was not lost however as Nina did go on to study at the world famous Juilliard School of Music.

Many singers have been nurtured within their church environment and started out singing gospel music, Whitney Houston  being a great example. Surprisingly this was not exactly the case with Nina. Instead, Nina played piano in the church from the age of 6 and only started singing because it was a necessary requirement of her job when playing at a small club in Philadelphia.to raise finance for her musical training.

It was Nina's aim to produce top quality songs by blending her classical approach and African-American roots with the lyrics which definitely enriched the natural material. In all, Nina made 40 albums. Having considered the serious side of Nina's music let's not overlook the lighter side- 'My Baby Just Cares For Me.' and recognize that Nina's music was a clever fusion of styles including some pop.

Nina Simone is without doubt one of the greatest talents we have been blessed with. Sadly she passed away in April 2003 having suffered breast cancer for several years and many, many tributes from around the world were paid to her.

Returning to, 'Feeling Good,' I have to add that the lyrics of this song are so lively and in touch with all the best things life has to offer.. extremely clever writing and you can take any sad experience and use this song to set yourself up on the road to happiness- a reminder of all the good things we can experience~ for free~ expressed as her notes fly towards the end - and that says it all!

Jaz McKenzie

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