Born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, N.C., in 1933, the young woman who the world would come to know as Nina Simone was so prodigally gifted as a classical pianist that she wound up at Julliard after high school and trained with a private tutor, who helped her prepare to audition at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. When Curtis rejected her application, she redoubled her efforts to become a classical pianist. To make ends meet, she accompanied voice students in a music academy and subsequently took a job playing piano in a bar in Atlantic City in the summer of 1954. It was there that she found her style, and the name Nina Simone.
Following is an excerpt from Princess Noire, Nadine Cohodas’s thoughtful, illuminating biography of Simone.
June 1954–June 1956