The photo was taken just north of the Gapstow Bridge in Central Park. The record company needed a song so Simone drew inspiration from a photo shoot earlier in the day at Central Park. The song «Central Park Blues» was created and recorded in a single take.
Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.
The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well-received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.
To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to "Nina Simone" to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play "the devil's music" or so-called "cocktail piano". She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with "I Loves You, Porgy". Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.
Simone was born on February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. The sixth of eight children in a poor family, she began playing piano at the age of three or four; the first song she learned was "God Be With You, Till We Meet Again". Demonstrating a talent with the piano, she performed at her local church. Her concert debut, a classical recital, was given when she was 12. Simone later said that during this performance, 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 people. She said that she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front, and that the incident contributed to her later involvement in the civil rights movement. Simone's mother, Mary Kate Waymon (née Irvin, November 20, 1901 April 30, 2001), was a Methodist minister and a housemaid. Her father, Rev. John Devan Waymon (June 24, 1898 October 23, 1972), was a handyman who at one time owned a dry-cleaning business, but also suffered bouts of ill health. Simone's music teacher helped establish a special fund to pay for her education. Subsequently, a local fund was set up to assist her continued education. With the help of this scholarship money, she was able to attend Allen High School for Girls in Asheville, North Carolina.
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