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Nina Simone made her debut at New York’s Village Vanguard over 55 years ago this month, in a run of shows that would cement her as one of the most groundbreaking and influential music talents of our time. On July 20,1959, Billboard praised Simone’s “refreshing singing-style” and a “first-rate” technique,” and her ability to cross from pop, to blues, and jazz music.

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Simone’s childhood dream was to become the world’s first Black female classical pianist, and although she didn’t reach the goal, her influence far outpaced what she could have predicted for her own future. In the 1960s and ’70s, the woman born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, was more than just an artist, she was an unapologetic figure within the Civil Rights Movement, using her music as a method to speak to, and for, a generation fighting for it’s voice.

Photos: youtube

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