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The late and legendary “High Priestess of Soul” Nina Simone will be among the 2018 class of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The talented singer, songwriter, pianist and activist released dozens of recordings over the course of her career and has remained an influence to many.

Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933 in Tyron, North Carolina. As a child, she showed  ability as a pianist and began playing at her church before receiving classical training. After high school, Simone studied briefly at  Julliard but was relegated to odd jobs as pursuing music seemed an unstable dream.

Simone’s fortunes changed later in the decade after working the Atlantic City casino circuit as a singer and piano player. However, much of Simone’s most notable work came in the ’60’s during the heights of the civil rights movement when songs like  “Mississippi Goddamn,” and “Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead)” began to take center stage in her discography.

Aware of her voice and platform, Simone’s music and her politics shifted radically, culminating with Black Power anthems such as “Young, Gifted and Black.” The ’70’s were also a time of touring and self-reflection as Simone began traveling the world while distancing herself from the industry. But demand for her music increased in the ’80’s before she recorded her final studio album in 1993.

Simone’s later years were marred my rumors of mental issues and financial woes, She passed away at the age of 70 on April 21, 2003 in France after battling a long illness.

Joining Simone in the hall will be The Meters, LL Cool J, Rufus and Chaka Khan, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who will receive the Award for Early Influence honor, among others.

PHOTO: Gerrit De Bruin

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Little Known Black History Fact: Nina Simone  was originally published on