On this day in 1933, vocalist Nina Simone — universally regarded as the “High Priestess of Soul” — was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina. Simone, a classically trained pianist, overcame a troubled childhood to become one of the most storied singer-songwriters in music history, leaving behind a legacy that touched on jazz, blues, gospel, protest music, Civil Rights and so much more.
“Sinnerman,” our Song of the Day, presents Simone at her absolute best. The song’s lyrics tell of a sinner’s futile attempt to seek salvation on Judgement Day, and the accompanying music — full of dark, thundering piano chords— heightens the thematic intensity. As history tells it, Simone first encountered the song in a revival meeting she attended with her mother, a Methodist minister. Her recording of the tune on the 1965 album Pastel Blues is one of her most popular recordings of all time. In 2003, Simone died in her sleep at her home in France. She was 70 years old.