Author : Tee Mayberry
Singer, Songwriter, Musician & even Civil Rights Activist, Eunice Kathleen Waymon better known as “Nina Simone” filled the shoes of all these roles and more. Better known for her footprint made in the jazz arena, Nina Simone was one of the great pioneers that paved the way for many musicians, singers, and minorities.
Nina Simone was born in Tryon North Carolina the sixth of eight children in a poor family. As far back as Nina could remember she always had an intimate relationship with music. She aspired to become a concert pianist while working in a wide range of musicals styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel and pop. Things began to take a dim turn for Nina career wise when she was denied a scholarship to the then prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia even though she blew the minds of the judges during her audition. Simone later found out by a representative of the Curtis Institute that she was denied acceptance to the prestigious school because she was black. But Simone did not give up, she kept on singing and playing until she was hired to perform weekly at a small club in Philadelphia which enabled her to have the funds to continue her musical education and afforded her to become the classic pianist she always desired to be.
She was approached by a representative of Bethlehem records to do a single called “I loves You, Porgy.” The single instantly became a chart topper in the United States. Over the years Simone recorded over 40 albums between 1958 and 1974 when she made her debut with “Little Girl Blue.”
After the success of “Little Girl in Blue” Simone signed with Colpix Records with whom she recorded many classical tunes and later they relinquished all rights of Simone’s recordings to her. From then on she only performed only “Pop Music” in order to make money to continue her classical music studies. She didn’t give a hoot about having a record deal. Ms. Simone just wanted to sing and play
In the early 60’s Simone became involved in the civil rights movement. Her music shifted from predominantly happy-go-lucky to songs that were highly influential for equal rights. The event that swayed Simone into the civil rights movement was when she had her concert debut, Simone stated that her parents were already seated in the front row of the venue where she was performing but were forced to move to the back of the auditorium to make way for white people. Simone refused to perform until her parents were moved back to their original seats. Sounds like Nina had a lil’ bit of Rosa Parks rising up in her belly.
Nina did not allow this to deter her from singing and playing. She went on to record for RCA records which she recorded a number of popular tracks, many reached as high as number four on the charts.
She had become well known by now. Her stage presence earned her the title “High Priestess of Soul”. During her shows she would move from playing the piano to taking the microphone and just singing. She did this separately and simultaneously. She went on to perform many covers of musical pioneers before her, one being Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit. She even released many chart toppers of her own to mention a few “Sinner Man” and “I put a spell on you”.
In 2003. Nina succumbed to breast cancer which she had suffered with for many years. She has left behind a legacy of music compositions that even the top artists of today sample in their music compositions. Nina Simone will never be forgotten for she was is a pioneer who paved the way for many artist then and now.
Now on to the cuisine that Ms. Simone inspired LHYME to create.
Nina Simone had a favorite dish , Cream of Mushroom Soup , but it wasn’t your ordinary every day variety she especially loved the French recipe, Mushroom Creme Soup, for this warm and comforting soup. So we at Lhyme decided to pay tribute to the GREAT Nina Simone, by re-creating her favorite dish with a musical touch to it in her honor 🙂 Enjoy !
GOOD BAIT MUSHROOM CREME SOUP
– 1 Yellow Onion, diced
– 4 Tablespoons Butter
– 1/2 lb Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced ( Porcini Mushrooms are also great for this soup !)
– 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
– 1 Cup Chicken Broth
– 1/2 Sprig Rosemary
– 1 Tablespoon Sherry
– 2 Cups Half and Half
– Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Melt butter over medium heat and sauté the Onions, Rosemary and Mushrooms in the Chicken Broth for 10 minutes until tender in a medium saucepan.
2) Pick out a few mushrooms for decoration and in a blender or food processor, puree the mixture until nice and creamy but not perfectly smooth. It needs to still have a slight texture to the soup.
3) In the saucepan, melt the butter, whisk in the flour until smooth. Add the salt, pepper, half and half and pureed mushrooms.
4) Stirring constantly, bring soup to a boil and cook until thickened. Add sherry and then salt and pepper to taste. Decorate, Serve and Enjoy ! 🙂