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Quotes by Nina Simone

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Nina Simone. We hope you enjoy pondering them and please share widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Nina Simone

Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

The sixth of eight children born to a poor family in Tryon, North Carolina, Simone initially aspired to be a concert pianist. With the help of a few supporters in her hometown, she enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She then applied for a scholarship to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied admission despite a well-received audition, which she attributed to racism. In 2003, just days before her death, the Institute awarded her an honorary degree.

To make a living, Simone started playing piano at a nightclub in Atlantic City. She changed her name to "Nina Simone" to disguise herself from family members, having chosen to play "the devil's music" or so-called "cocktail piano". She was told in the nightclub that she would have to sing to her own accompaniment, which effectively launched her career as a jazz vocalist. She went on to record more than 40 albums between 1958 and 1974, making her debut with Little Girl Blue. She had a hit single in the United States in 1958 with "I Loves You, Porgy". Her musical style fused gospel and pop with classical music, in particular Johann Sebastian Bach, and accompanied expressive, jazz-like singing in her contralto voice.

Quote: You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served.


Quote: I didn't get interested in music. It was a gift from God. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I didn't get interested in music. It was a gift from God.


Quote: Desegregation is a joke. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Desegregation is a joke.


Quote: All the time, there was the weight of my community's expectations on my shoulders. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

All the time, there was the weight of my community's expectations on my shoulders.


Quote: My daughter is in more competition with me. I never wanted to be bigger than my mother or to challenge her. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

My daughter is in more competition with me. I never wanted to be bigger than my mother or to challenge her.


Quote: As a political weapon, it has helped me for 30 years defend the rights of American blacks and third-world people all over the world, to defend them with protest songs. To move the audience to make them conscious of what has been done to my people around the world. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

As a political weapon, it has helped me for 30 years defend the rights of American blacks and third-world people all over the world, to defend them with protest songs. To move the audience to make them conscious of what has been done to my people around the world.


Quote: When I'm on that stage, I assume honor. I assume compensation, and I should. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

When I'm on that stage, I assume honor. I assume compensation, and I should.


Quote: I'm not a blues singer, I'm a diva. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I'm not a blues singer, I'm a diva.


Quote: Funk, gospel, blues is all out of slavery times, out of depression, out of sorrow. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Funk, gospel, blues is all out of slavery times, out of depression, out of sorrow.


Quote: You feel the shame, humiliation, and anger at being just another victim of prejudice, and at the same time, there's the nagging worry that maybe... you're just no good. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

You feel the shame, humiliation, and anger at being just another victim of prejudice, and at the same time, there's the nagging worry that maybe... you're just no good.


Quote: The protest years were over, not just for me but for a whole generation, and in music, just like in politics, many of the greatest talents were dead or in exile, and their place was filled by third-rate imitators. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

The protest years were over, not just for me but for a whole generation, and in music, just like in politics, many of the greatest talents were dead or in exile, and their place was filled by third-rate imitators.


Quote: It is a fact that I don't get enough love, I never did get enough love,. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

It is a fact that I don't get enough love, I never did get enough love,.




Quote: It's logical that people from bad times will reflect their feelings in their communication. Music is part of the communication. If you lived it, you can do it. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

It's logical that people from bad times will reflect their feelings in their communication. Music is part of the communication. If you lived it, you can do it.


Quote: I love the classics but there are many new ideas to be made into reality. I'd rather be concerned with my own thing. There are many masters of classical piano so I'll leave it to them. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I love the classics but there are many new ideas to be made into reality. I'd rather be concerned with my own thing. There are many masters of classical piano so I'll leave it to them.


Quote: I had heard blues and jazz all my life but I was never aware that it was associated with nightclubs and drinking. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I had heard blues and jazz all my life but I was never aware that it was associated with nightclubs and drinking.


Quote: I'm sorry that I did not become the world's first black classic pianist. I think I would have been happier. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I'm sorry that I did not become the world's first black classic pianist. I think I would have been happier.


Quote: Through music you can become sad, joyful, loving, you can learn. You can learn mathematics, touch, pacing... Oh my God! Ooh... Wow... You can see colors through music. Anything! by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Through music you can become sad, joyful, loving, you can learn. You can learn mathematics, touch, pacing... Oh my God! Ooh... Wow... You can see colors through music. Anything!


Quote: At this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don't think you can help but be involved. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

At this crucial time in our lives, when everything is so desperate, when every day is a matter of survival, I don't think you can help but be involved.


Quote: It's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

It's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live.


Quote: I'll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear. I mean really, no fear! by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I'll tell you what freedom is to me: no fear. I mean really, no fear!


Quote: You get racism crossing the street; it's in the very fabric of American society. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

You get racism crossing the street; it's in the very fabric of American society.


Quote: What I was interested in was conveying an emotional message, which means using everything you've got inside you sometimes to barely make a note, or if you have to strain to sing, you sing. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

What I was interested in was conveying an emotional message, which means using everything you've got inside you sometimes to barely make a note, or if you have to strain to sing, you sing.


Quote: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song that was written for Simone, she confronted the band's lead singer, Eric Burdon. So you're the honky, she said, who stole my song and got a hit out of it? by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, a song that was written for Simone, she confronted the band's lead singer, Eric Burdon. So you're the honky, she said, who stole my song and got a hit out of it?


Quote: Sometimes I sound like gravel, and sometimes I sound like coffee and cream. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Sometimes I sound like gravel, and sometimes I sound like coffee and cream.


Quote: The allusion was that I was actually naked. I loved that. It always, kind of shocked people enough that they became mine immediately. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

The allusion was that I was actually naked. I loved that. It always, kind of shocked people enough that they became mine immediately.


Quote: Music is an art and art has its own rules. And one of them is that you must pay more attention to it than anything else in the world, if you are going to be true to yourself. And if you don't do it -- and you are an artist -- it punishes you. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Music is an art and art has its own rules. And one of them is that you must pay more attention to it than anything else in the world, if you are going to be true to yourself. And if you don't do it -- and you are an artist -- it punishes you.


Quote: To be young, gifted and black! by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

To be young, gifted and black!


Quote: I love to travel to hear different kinds of music. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I love to travel to hear different kinds of music.


Quote: I don't like drug addicts and she sounds like a cat. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I don't like drug addicts and she sounds like a cat.


Quote: Since I was three I've been playing the piano. I've been onstage. My mother is an Evangelist and I used to play the piano at her revival meetings. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Since I was three I've been playing the piano. I've been onstage. My mother is an Evangelist and I used to play the piano at her revival meetings.


Quote: I can read and arrange, but I can't write. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I can read and arrange, but I can't write.


Quote: I feel what they feel. And people who listen to me know that, and it makes them feel like they're not alone. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I feel what they feel. And people who listen to me know that, and it makes them feel like they're not alone.






Quote: It was always Marx, Lenin, and revolution -- real girl's talk. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

It was always Marx, Lenin, and revolution -- real girl's talk.


Quote: I don't like to go to strange places. I was in Italy for about five hours on my way to Africa. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I don't like to go to strange places. I was in Italy for about five hours on my way to Africa.


Quote: I don't like to go to strange places. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I don't like to go to strange places.


Quote: That is why we fly from the inner void, since God might steal into it. It is not the pursuit of pleasure and the aversion for effort which causes sin, but fear of God. We know that we cannot see him face to face without dying, and we do not want to die. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

That is why we fly from the inner void, since God might steal into it. It is not the pursuit of pleasure and the aversion for effort which causes sin, but fear of God. We know that we cannot see him face to face without dying, and we do not want to die.


Quote: Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking.


Quote: You can't be different if you look at it. Being gifted is different. I had that in my piano playing. I'm very thankful for that. I'm very aware of that. The style and what I fed is just me. I never worked at it. It just happened. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

You can't be different if you look at it. Being gifted is different. I had that in my piano playing. I'm very thankful for that. I'm very aware of that. The style and what I fed is just me. I never worked at it. It just happened.


Quote: What is love but a prelude to sorrow...with heartache ahead for your goal. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

What is love but a prelude to sorrow...with heartache ahead for your goal.


Quote: How do you explain what it feels like to get on the stage and make poetry that you know sinks into the hearts and souls of people who are unable to express it. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

How do you explain what it feels like to get on the stage and make poetry that you know sinks into the hearts and souls of people who are unable to express it.


Quote: That's a very high goal to have, study eight hours a day to be a concert pianist. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

That's a very high goal to have, study eight hours a day to be a concert pianist.


Quote: I believe the time will come when the whole definition of pop music will change. It will get to the point where a song will not be a good song until it has a high level of creativity in writing and performance. In other words, in order to be popular, songs will have to meet these high standards. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of Nina Simone quote: I believe the time will come when the whole definition of pop music will change. It will get to the point where a song will not be a good song until it has a high level of creativity in writing and performance. In other words, in order to be popular, songs will have to meet these high standards.- black text on quotes background

I believe the time will come when the whole definition of pop music will change. It will get to the point where a song will not be a good song until it has a high level of creativity in writing and performance. In other words, in order to be popular, songs will have to meet these high standards.


Quote: I wasn't a jazz player, but a classical musician, and I improvised arrangements of popular songs using classical motifs. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I wasn't a jazz player, but a classical musician, and I improvised arrangements of popular songs using classical motifs.


Quote: Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking... the new inventive phrases we make up to describe things -- all that to me is jazz just as much as the music we play. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Jazz is not just music, it's a way of life, it's a way of being, a way of thinking... the new inventive phrases we make up to describe things -- all that to me is jazz just as much as the music we play.


Quote: I think that the artists who don't get involved in preaching messages probably are happier -- but you see, I have to live with Nina, and that is very difficult. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I think that the artists who don't get involved in preaching messages probably are happier -- but you see, I have to live with Nina, and that is very difficult.


Quote: It is an artist's duty to reflect the times. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

It is an artist's duty to reflect the times.


Quote: Birds flying high you know how I feel

Sun in the sky you know how I feel

Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel

And this old world is a new world

And a bold world

For me

And I'm feeling good

I'm feeling good. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Birds flying high you know how I feel

Sun in the sky you know how I feel

Breeze driftin' on by you know how I feel

And this old world is a new world

And a bold world

For me

And I'm feeling good

I'm feeling good.


Quote: I want to shake people up so bad, that when they leave a nightclub where I've performed, I just want them to be to pieces. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I want to shake people up so bad, that when they leave a nightclub where I've performed, I just want them to be to pieces.


Quote: By the time I was eight I was taking classical piano lessons and I wanted to be a concert pianist. But that didn't work out. I graduated from high school and my formal education ended. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

By the time I was eight I was taking classical piano lessons and I wanted to be a concert pianist. But that didn't work out. I graduated from high school and my formal education ended.


Quote: I have to be composed; I have to be poised. I have to remember what my first piano teacher told me: 'You do not touch that piano until you are ready and until they are ready to listen to you. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I have to be composed; I have to be poised. I have to remember what my first piano teacher told me: 'You do not touch that piano until you are ready and until they are ready to listen to you.


Quote: The pressure of show business is on all the time and show business is a fickle business. Whatever is popular now -- that's all that counts. I have to constantly re-identify myself to myself, reactivate my own standards, my own convictions about what I'm doing and why. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of Nina Simone quote; white text on black background

The pressure of show business is on all the time and show business is a fickle business. Whatever is popular now -- that's all that counts. I have to constantly re-identify myself to myself, reactivate my own standards, my own convictions about what I'm doing and why.


Quote: As I got older though I wanted a life of my own. The classical training was very demanding and thorough. It was a very sheltered existence. Even though I heard blues and gospel on the radio sometimes, it was always back to the piano and study and give recitals. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

As I got older though I wanted a life of my own. The classical training was very demanding and thorough. It was a very sheltered existence. Even though I heard blues and gospel on the radio sometimes, it was always back to the piano and study and give recitals.


Quote: To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world. Black people. And I mean that in every sense.


Quote: Tomorrow, I might be in a different mood and you wouldn't recognize my voice. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Tomorrow, I might be in a different mood and you wouldn't recognize my voice.


Quote: It's a new dawn, it's a new day...and I'm feeling good. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

It's a new dawn, it's a new day...and I'm feeling good.




Quote: My job is not done. I address my songs now to the third world. I am popular all over Asia and Africa and the Middle East, not to speak of South Africa, where I'm trying to go to see Nelson Mandela. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

My job is not done. I address my songs now to the third world. I am popular all over Asia and Africa and the Middle East, not to speak of South Africa, where I'm trying to go to see Nelson Mandela.


Quote: I was not reluctant to become a singer. Singing has been an activity I've done my whole life, without thought. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I was not reluctant to become a singer. Singing has been an activity I've done my whole life, without thought.


Quote: I applied for a scholarship to Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. I knew I was good enough, but they turned me down. And it took me about six months to realize it was because I was black. I never really got over that jolt of racism at the time. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I applied for a scholarship to Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. I knew I was good enough, but they turned me down. And it took me about six months to realize it was because I was black. I never really got over that jolt of racism at the time.


Quote: You've got to learn to leave the table When love's no longer being served. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

You've got to learn to leave the table When love's no longer being served.


Quote: Life is short. People are not easy to know. They're not easy to know, so if you don't tell them how you feel, you're not going to get anywhere, I feel. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Life is short. People are not easy to know. They're not easy to know, so if you don't tell them how you feel, you're not going to get anywhere, I feel.


Quote: My love is like the wind and wild is the wind. Give me more than one caress, satisfy my hungriness. Let the wind blow through your heart for wild is the wind. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

My love is like the wind and wild is the wind. Give me more than one caress, satisfy my hungriness. Let the wind blow through your heart for wild is the wind.


Quote: I flirt all the time. I like men! I don't think we can do without them. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I flirt all the time. I like men! I don't think we can do without them.


Quote: I was reared in the church from the age of three. I've played piano since I was three. I performed at revivals and for my people around North Carolina for several years. People around town collected money to send me to school. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I was reared in the church from the age of three. I've played piano since I was three. I performed at revivals and for my people around North Carolina for several years. People around town collected money to send me to school.




Quote: This may be a dream, but I'll say it anyway: I was supposed to be married last year, and I bought a gown. When I meet Nelson Mandela, I shall put on this gown and have the train of it removed and put aside, and kiss the ground that he walks on and then kiss his feet. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of Nina Simone quote; white text on black background

This may be a dream, but I'll say it anyway: I was supposed to be married last year, and I bought a gown. When I meet Nelson Mandela, I shall put on this gown and have the train of it removed and put aside, and kiss the ground that he walks on and then kiss his feet.


Quote: From the beginning, it has been a no-no for a black man to touch a white woman. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

From the beginning, it has been a no-no for a black man to touch a white woman.


Quote: I would like a man now who is rich, and who can give me a boat -- a sailboat. I want to own it and let him pay for it. My first love is the sea and water, not music. Music is second. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I would like a man now who is rich, and who can give me a boat -- a sailboat. I want to own it and let him pay for it. My first love is the sea and water, not music. Music is second.


Quote: The worst thing about that kind of prejudice... is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

The worst thing about that kind of prejudice... is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough.


Quote: Greed has driven the world crazy. And I think I'm lucky that I have a place over here that I can call home. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Greed has driven the world crazy. And I think I'm lucky that I have a place over here that I can call home.


Quote: I think if I were over there in America, protest music would be more important. But I'm not going. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I think if I were over there in America, protest music would be more important. But I'm not going.


Quote: I think the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor. I don't think the black people are going to rise at all; I think most of them are going to die. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I think the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor. I don't think the black people are going to rise at all; I think most of them are going to die.


Quote: Once I understood Bach's music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Once I understood Bach's music, I wanted to be a concert pianist. Bach made me dedicate my life to music, and it was that teacher who introduced me to his world.


Quote: I don't like rap music at all. I don't think it's music. It's just a beat and rapping. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I don't like rap music at all. I don't think it's music. It's just a beat and rapping.


Quote: Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Jazz is a white term to define black people. My music is black classical music.


Quote: To most white people, jazz means black and jazz means dirt, and that's not what I play. I play black classical music. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

To most white people, jazz means black and jazz means dirt, and that's not what I play. I play black classical music.


Quote: I try to swim every damn day I can, and I've learned to scuba dive and snorkel. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I try to swim every damn day I can, and I've learned to scuba dive and snorkel.


Quote: I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about... Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about... Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.


Quote: Slavery has never been abolished from America's way of thinking. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

Slavery has never been abolished from America's way of thinking.


Quote: I think the rich will eventually have to cave in too, because the economic situation around the world is not gonna tolerate the United States being on top forever. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I think the rich will eventually have to cave in too, because the economic situation around the world is not gonna tolerate the United States being on top forever.


Quote: When I was studying... there weren't any black concert pianists. My choices were intuitive, and I had the technique to do it. People have heard my music and heard the classic in it, so I have become known as a black classical pianist. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

When I was studying... there weren't any black concert pianists. My choices were intuitive, and I had the technique to do it. People have heard my music and heard the classic in it, so I have become known as a black classical pianist.


Quote: There's no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

There's no excuse for the young people not knowing who the heroes and heroines are or were.


Quote: I'm a real rebel with a cause. by author Nina Simone overlaid on photo of photo of author Nina Simone with quote

I'm a real rebel with a cause.


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