Nina Simone’s lost set at the 1966 Newport Jazz Festival released as an album
Written by B87FM on July 22, 2023
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Nina Simone fans have a reason for feeling good: A previously unreleased recording of the legendary artist’s set at the Newport Jazz Festival in July 1966 is being released.
Verve Records and UMe on Friday are issuing “You’ve Got to Learn,” a six-song set that includes a different take on Simone’s celebrated protest song “Mississippi Goddam.”
The songs also include “You’ve Got to Learn, ”‘I Loves You, Porgy,” “Blues For Mama,” “Be My Husband” and ”Music for Lovers.” Simone, who also plays piano, is joined by guitar, bass and drums.
There are sound issues throughout — as they are sorted out before the final song, the encore “Music for Lovers,” she screams “Shut Up! “Shut Up!” to a heckler — but Simone’s power and mastery are clearly potent.
“Her performance is not fiery so much as passionate, not critical so much as coaxing,” writes Simone scholar Shana L. Redmond in the liner notes. “These are love songs and each captured something of the careful combination of intimacy and immediacy on stage for which Simone was known.”
“Mississippi Goddam,” was written by Simone in response to the 1963 Alabama church bombing that killed four little girls and the assassination of Medgar Evers in Mississippi that same year. The version Simone sung that day swings differently than earlier versions, less hectoring and includes the line “Watts has made me lose my rest,” a reference to the riots in Los Angeles on Aug. 11, 1965.
This year marks Simone’s 90th birthday. The so-called “High Priestess of Soul”and a civil rights icon recorded nearly 40 albums between 1958 and 1973, with such cherished songs as “I Put a Spell on You,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “Feeling Good.” She died in 2003.
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