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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Princess Noire... Nadine Cohodas

I never expected a few days ago, when I began reading "Princess Noire..The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone," which was written by Nadine Cohodas, that I would sadly set the book down after having gone on an emotional roller coaster that left me thinking that I was going to do the best I could day by day to share my gifts with whomever God sent into my life that day.
I had seen Doctor Nina Simone (she loved in her later years to be addressed in that fashion. She received two honorary doctorates in her life that focused on her contribution to Music) in the early seventies in Oakland,California. It was an early afternoon show to which school children and their teachers were invited. I was volunteering at one of the schools and I went, not knowing anything about this wonderful lady.
But when she sang "Young, Gifted and Black," I began crying. I was thirty years old, just beginning to recognize and accept the beauty of my skin color and the intellectual gifts I had to offer, and she sang to me... she knew my hurts and dreams in a very profound way my clearly than I knew them.
The auditorium was filled with grade school children and I knew she also touched many of them.
I became that afternoon, a different person, more hopeful and more confident, because of her.
Over the years I would listen to many of her songs, "Here Comes The Sun" and "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free," for example. And I always felt so much better when I heard her playing the piano and singing."
And Ms. Cohadas' book took me to the other side of her life where I had a brief chance to share her hurts and her hopes...the alienation from her father, two broken marriages, her rage, her frustration... as she tried to reconcile her experiences of being a gifted Black woman in America...frequently over her long career she would find that she did not have enough money to feed herself and her daughter, and had to ask for financial help so that she could have a safe place to live.
As I finished the book I vowed that I would do whatever I could to support those individuals and groups who focused on quality education and equal opportunity for every human being.

I found Princess Noire, The Tumultous Reign of Nina Simone at the Martin Luther King Library in Tacoma, Washington.


Kim Thompson said...

What a cool post and a fabulous woman!

Lorraine Hart said...

One of my favourite artists Joseph, for she DID reach so many of us, in a time of opening. I'm humbled by her struggle...and uplifted by her music.