Musicheads Essential Artist: Nina Simone

Nina Simone
American pianist and jazz singer Nina Simone performs October 18, 1964. (Getty Images)
Musicheads Essential Artist: Nina Simone
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Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in North Carolina in 1933, Nina Simone's talent as a musician was evident early on when she started playing piano by ear at the age of three. After graduating valedictorian of her high school class, the community raised money for a scholarship for her to study at Juilliard in New York City.

She'd also applied to study at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. However, her dreams of becoming a pioneering African-American classical pianist were dashed when the school denied her admission. To the end, she herself claimed that racism was the reason she did not attend.

While her original dream was unfulfilled, she ended up with an incredible worldwide career that spanned jazz, popular music, blues, and social activism — becoming Nina Simone.

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