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World Music CD of the Month

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The Participant Observer World Music CD of the Month is The Essential Nina Simone by Nina Simone

Nina Simone was concert pianist, songwriter as well as an incomparable jazz and blues singer. She also dedicated her life to social justice, contesting racism and inequality. Born in North Caroline she studied classical piano and at the same time started performing in clubs which required her to sing. Hers is a somber but powerful voice, earning her the appellation of "The High Priestess of Soul".Throughout her performing career, she was a formidable activist, addressing racial and social inequities, women's rights and the Vietnam war. The NY Times says, "Nina's concerts and recordings feel like urgent bulletins from a brooding heart and a troubled land." Her song Mississippi Goddamn was highly controversial as it was condemned (mostly in the South) for its supposed profanity, but that was just an excuse. The song expresses anger at the slow pace of change, broken promises and trust, belittlement, patronizing commentary, demonization of dissent, violent and wholly dishonest actions and claims from American thought and political leaders. The message of the song is direct: "All I want is equality, For my sister my brother my people and me". The entire lyrics can be found here. The song was first performed in 1964 at the Village Gate in Greenwich Village. It was performed at the end of the Selma Marches, but the relevance and urgency of every line of the song is startlingly undiminished by time.

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