Nina Simone, Eunice Kathleen Waymon

In 2017, singer and pianist Nina Simone (1933–2003) was among the first-time nominees on the ballot for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, the artist's original plan was to study classical piano. After studying one year at the Julliard School of Music, she ran out of money for formal schooling and began singing in clubs, using the name Nina Simone—to honor her favorite actress Simone Signoret and to hide her nightclub singing from her Methodist minister mother. She is best known for her recording of George Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy," but her signature became her mix of different styles that included folk, gospel, blues, and jazz. Her political activism in the civil rights movement during the 1960s resulted in her singing about racism in American society. Her music has inspired many American artists, such as Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell. Nina's autobiography, I Put a Spell on You, was published in 1991 (with Stephen Cleary). She spent the last years of her life as an expatriate, ultimately residing in the South of France, where she died of natural causes in 2003. Her daughter (and only child) Lisa Simone Kelly, born Lisa Celeste Stroud, also sings, using the stage name Simone.

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