Last week in the first part of the Nina Simone story, William left us at the point when Nina’s debut album Little Girl Blue in 1958, was gaining her a much wider audience and she had moved on from Bethlehem Records to sign a contract with Colpix which was a division of Columbia Pictures.
With more experience of the record industry under her belt, Nina’s contract with Colpix included the important clause which clearly handed all the creative control over to her as an artist. This included all the material that she recorded. Her first album for Colpix was the 1959 release of The Amazing Nina Simone and here is one of the tracks from the album It Might As Well Be Spring.
The song was from the 1945 film State Fair with music by Richard Rogers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year.
This album led to opportunities to perform in upscale venues including her first major New York show in theTown Hall in Manhattan. The evening was a resounding success and critics and audience alike were captivated not just by her incredible musicality but also her unique and spontaneous performance style. One of the songs that she performed that night was You Can Have Him by Irving Berlin, which had previously been covered by both Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. It was such a stunning version that Colpix released the track as a single. Note the opening keyboard arpeggio that would become Nina’s signature throughout her career.
In 1960 Nina would achieve her second Pop and R&B chart success with her version of the original Bessie Smith classic “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out.” The blues song was written in 1923 by Jimmy Cox and the lyrics told the story from the point of view of a one-time millionaire during prohibition.
Nina’s increasing chart success and rising popularity resulted in an invitation to perform at the prestigious Newport Festival.
The festival had been established in 1954 as the First Annual American Jazz Festival and was held at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island. It was financed by socialites Lorraine and Louis Lorillard for many years and it became one of the key venues for the top performers of the day. Following the success of the festival in the first year with over 13,000 attendees, the Lorillard’s bought a large estate called Belcourt in the hopes of holding the larger event in 1955 but planning permission was not granted. The festival did go ahead at Freebody Park which was a sports arena and workshops and receptions being held at Belcourt.
Not all the residents of Newport were in favour of the event. Jazz was not as popular amongst the wealthy residential community and they felt that the festival attracted an undesirable element. Mainly low income students and music fans without money for the high-end hotels who were sleeping rough across their exclusive environment. And of course many of the musicians and their fans were African American which in the 50s was a factor as it was across most of the country. The influx of thousands of people also caused logistic problems such as traffic congestion which only increased each year until 1960. Things got out of hand amongst the festival goers that year and the National Guard was called in to restore order. After that the festival underwent a number of changes to format before relocating to New York in the 70s.
However 1960 was the year that Nina Simone was invited to perform which she did on June 30th. She was accompanied by her long term musical collaborator Al Shackman on guitar, bassist Chris White and drummer Bobby Hamilton. Colpix recorded their performance and in 1961 released the popular blues track Trouble in Mind which gave Nina her third chart success.
Trouble in Mind is a blues song written by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones in the early 1920s and the first known recording of the song was in 1924. It has been covered many times by artists such as Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke and of course this version by Nina Simone.
Over the five years with Colpix Nina recorded nine albums and she had several tracks that were pivotal to her career including Cotton Eyed Joe and the lyrical and descriptive Norwegian folk song Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair. Nina also recorded one civil rights song, written by Oscar Brown jnr, Brown Baby which was a track on her fifth album for Colpix, At The Village Gate.
Next time we catch up with Nina Simone as she moves on from Colpix Records.
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William Price King.
William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.
His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.
William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking
William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
You can find all the series by William Price King at this link.
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