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Nina Simone: 'Sugar In My Bowl: The Very Best of Nina Simone 1967-1972'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: Jazz loves the stand-alone voice, the stylist you can identify by the end of the very first phrase. Nina Simone's voice is one of the most distinctive. She has a style that is well worked out. It's uniquely hers, but broad enough to allow for a full range of interpretations. A.B. Spellman, is that why we include her in NPR's Basic Jazz Record Library?

A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: Yes Murray. This collection, Sugar in My Bowl: The Very Best of Nina Simone from 1967-1972 is a great snapshot of Nina and her times.


SPELLMAN: She's among the greatest of American singers. You can say her style almost mirrored those times — joyously exuberant, passionately political, and stylistically diverse. As in the titled cut, "Sugar in My Bowl," she is capable of singing a very raunchy blues that resolves with a baroque flourish.


SPELLMAN: Nina Simone faced the 1960s head-on, and full of hope for a future without racism. A future that we can imagine in America, but can't quite bring it to focus. Here, she sings about the great Civil Rights struggle in "Mississippi Goddamn."


SPELLMAN: Nina can sing the poetry of Hoagy Carmichael, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, or Leonard Cohen. In fact, one of the things that I most appreciate about Nina Simone is her taste in repertoire. There are great songs in this collection, performed by a singer with a heavy, yet supple voice, who's capable of combining power and nuance in a single song, even in a single phrase.


HORWITZ: And so, we're recommending Sugar in My Bowl: The Very Best of Nina Simone 1967-1972 for our NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. It's on the RCA label. For NPR Jazz, I'm Murray Horwitz.

SPELLMAN: And, I'm A.B. Spellman

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A. B. Spellman
Murray Horwitz
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