How much can one voice change history?

A look at the new biography of Nina Simone

How much can one voice change history?

Nina Simone in concert in Morlaix by Roland Godefroy, 1982

Few people have had as great an influence on history as Nina Simone. Though mostly remembered for her fantastic voice and musical talent Nina's reach went far beyond the stage and recording studio.

Born in South Carolina in 1933 Nina Simone grew up surrounded by segregation in the State's northern counterpart. This early experience of racial prejudice would prove incredibly influential as Nina came of age and America entered a great period of social and musical revolution.

Nina's natural talent, and extensive piano lessons, gave her the wherewithal to make music her life. It was her political conviction and activism, however, that ensured Nina's sound would be unique. Irritated by attempts to label her a jazz musician, Nina composed and performed across a broad spectrum of genres, working her political message of racial equality into many of them.

Gossip and scandal never seemed to be too far from Nina though and stories abound about how difficult it could be to work with the 'High Priestess of Soul'. Music author and journalist, Alan Light, has attempted to capture the story of Nina Simone, from her life on the stage to all that went on off it, in his latest work, What Happened, Miss Simone? 

Join Susan as she talks with Alan about the life and legacy of Nina Simone; how has her voice shaped the world?

This week's music to read to,

Opening with I Put a Spell on You, Nina Simone's music provides the soundtrack to this week's show with Four Women bringing part one to a close. The show ends with I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.