Known as the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone's life was an impactful one. She overpowered the resistance of her time with her great talent, she had an evolving musical style, defining her own positioning in the world. Her body of work tells her story and that of the eras of which she impacted. I find her to be an endlessly fascinating being and would recommend watching the documentary: What Happened, Miss Simone? I had the good fortune of being at the premiere of at The Sundance Film Festival in 2015. We were treated to a surprise performance of Lilac Wine by John Legend after the screening, proof of her impact on artists that have followed her. I also love the biographical Princess Noire written by Nadine Cohodas, it's a gorgeous book that holds prominence on my shelf, with a velvety texture to the cover.
I first heard her name in The Fugees album, The Score (it was my first cassette) when Lauryn Hill rhymes on "Ready or Not" I'll be Nina Simone and defecating on your microphone. More recently Ms. Hill covered her own version of "Feeling Good." Nina Simone has been sampled on a number of songs over the years and the songs "Sinnerman" and "I Put a Spell on You" have been featured in a number of films, TV series, and commercials. Her haunting vocals matched with her classically trained pianist background, envelop you in an enchanting sensuality. Her music represents the bittersweet aspects of love and life. The passion she exuded blended with melancholic undertones allow you a sensory overload. The woman can make you feel.
To focus on "Feeling Good," a song that has been sung and sampled repeatedly over the years, but Miss. Simone's rendition remains the classic. The lyrics themselves, representative of the new era which our world is seemingly transitioning into, one that is built on gratitude. The simplicity of the experiences which the song discusses reminds us to enjoy the little things that create our present moment and to remember the small markings of a memory.
"Freedom is mine and I know how I feel." We all embody our own liberation, regardless of any circumstances. The takeaway I have from the lyrics now is the mastery (via acceptance) of self leads to ownership of your own freedom. The empowerment comes through the strength of the vocals with the booming rise of the instrumentals. The dramatic bravado of the musical arrangement resonates with your soul enlivening these simple joys. The song has the power to act as a constant reminder to stay positive and thrive through the difficulties.
So I write to the aspects of "Feeling Good" to act as essentially the gateway drug. It is a song that is arguably her most well-known and approachable, but in truth, it skillfully demonstrates the restless intensity of Nina Simone. It could be seen as a nod to her own mental suffrage, to find joy amidst the present moment as much as it gives the notion to the listener to find some sort of inner peace amidst the tumultuousness nature of our external world at this time. "Feeling Good" allows you the chance to explore her talent without an insinuated impression. Perhaps you will charge into her songs exploring social injustices or ease into the romantic and delicately feminine songs to well, feel good. To understand the shifts in the world today, it is worth tapping into your connection with the High Priestess of Soul, whether you know her well or she is new to your eardrums. She resonates in her authenticity.