Nina Simone, The Best of Nina Simone

Kristina Feliciano

By Kristina Feliciano

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Best of Nina Simone

Nina Simone
The High Priestess of Soul at her very best.

The High Priestess of Soul was one of a kind. With a voice that was viscous and smoky, she was a commanding performer who could sing of wanting to camp at the door of her lover ("Porgy" from The Amazing Nina Simone) without losing a speck of dignity. The substance of her formidable talent always shines through, whether Simone is delivering a definitive rendition of a show tune like "I Loves You, Porgy" (found on Nina Simone Live at Ronnie Scott's), essaying lighter fare like "My Baby Just Cares for Me" or belting out the fiery "Mississippi Goddam," which she wrote in response to the deaths of four children in a 1963 Birmingham, Ala., church bombing. And to think that she had stumbled into singing: Back in 1954, the young Eunice Waymon, a Juilliard-trained piano prodigy, took a piano-playing gig at an Atlantic City, N.J., bar to help support her family only to discover that the owner also expected her to sing. So sing she did, and there was no turning back.