Eleven years ago on April 21st, I was taking a jazz dance class in downtown Minneapolis. When the instructor walked in, she said we were going to do something different that day, because Nina Simone had died.
Moving to the stereo, our instructor played the tune ‘Since I Fell For You.’ The first time through, we simply listened. That voice – the clarity, the range, sultry and a touch androgynous – singing of love and loss and longing.
I was grateful. To Ms. Simone for creating such powerful music that has always affected me deeply, and to my dance instructor for taking the time to honor a great woman, wholly unique in her spirit and talent.
Today would have been Nina Simone’s 81st birthday. In her 70 years on this earth, she stirred us and moved us and inspired us to rise up. I am not a dancer, in the strictest sense of the word. But I have never felt more like a dancer than on that day eleven years ago, as my body moved in tandem with women I don’t remember and will never see again, to the seductive, haunting sounds of the masterful, soulful, divine Ms. Nina Simone.
Join us, on this day of Friday Feminist Funtimes, in thanking Nina Simone for all that she gave. And do yourself a favor – go listen to her music.