January 18, 2021. Many today believe America’s cultural divide has reached an inflection point, a time where society has no choice but to seriously reckon with issues of race, class, civil rights, opportunity, and dignity in a way it hasn’t since Nina Simone first sang protest songs.
In recent years, perhaps as a byproduct of that widening cultural divide, there’s been a resurgence of both popular and critical interest in Simone, the High Priestess of Soul and a civil rights icon. That’s why I can’t ignore the call for a vintage Album of the Week that MLK Day 2021 has issued. For so many reasons, this year, it’s got to be Nina Simone’s ’Nuff Said!
On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. Three days later, Nina Simone performed at Westbury Music Fair on Long Island. That performance was recorded live and released later that year by RCA/Victor as ’Nuff Said!
Three years prior, after the famous Selma to Montgomery civil rights march in 1965, Simone played for some 10,000 people in Montgomery. She met Dr. King for the first time there, and though they didn’t always agree philosophically, they respected one another and became friends.
By that point in Simone’s life, her priorities had changed. She became part of a circle of activist black intellectuals that included Lorraine Hansberry, Langston Hughes, Stokely Carmichael and James Baldwin. She