Nina Simone Will Be Inducted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
The 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. Following two consecutive years with Hip-Hop additions to the Cleveland, Ohio-based museum and hall (N.W.A. and Tupac Shakur), no Rap artists are selected. However, Jazz/R&B vocalist, arranger, and pianist Nina Simone is among the five honorees that also include bands, Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, Moody Blues, and The Cars. Of the upcoming class, Simone is the only solo artist.
Born Eunice Waymon, Nina Simone recorded more than 40 albums, largely from the late ’50s into the mid-1970s. Early in her career, the North Carolina native found her highest charting hit with 1959’s “I Loves You, Porgy.” However, her renditions of songs such as “Sinnerman” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” have gained strong popularity long after release. The former would be a strong element that Kanye West used for Talib Kweli’s “Get By.” The highest charting single of Kweli’s career followed a 2002 hidden-track homage to Simone. Reflection Eternal’s “For Woman” released more than two years ahead of Nina’s death.
Throughout her career, Simone’s impassioned vocal and unique style yielded standalone covers of popular songs by beloved Rock acts such as The Beatles, Eric Burdon & The Animals, and The Bee Gees. She provided standalone versions of songs ranging from Blues icon Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” to George Gershwin’s operatic “Summertime.”
Outside of music, Simone was an activist for Black empowerment and women’s rights issues. She received honorary degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Chicago, Illinois’ Malcolm X College. Both awards came before her death at age 70.
Besides “Get By,” Simone’s work has been key ingredients to Hip-Hop songs such as this year’s Grammy-nominated “The Story Of OJ” by JAY-Z, Kanye West’s “Blood On The Leaves,” and Brother Ali’s “Freedom Ain’t Free.” In many cases, the musician’s spirit is tapped into right beside her work.
Other 2018 inductees have been sampled as well. Bon Jovi’s hit “Wanted Dead Or Alive” has been re-purposed as a Rap riff numerous times. Moody Blues’ “Dear Diary” provided the chorus to Masta Ace’s Disposable Arts song of the same name. The Cars’ quirky New Wave cut “I’m Not The One” would be the basis of Bow Wow’s hit “Thank You.” Dire Straits samples appear on music by Capone-N-Noreaga and Waka Flocka Flame.
The 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony returns to Cleveland, and takes place April 14.